The holidays strike a chord with me, but I can’t say it’s always harmonious. I have a lot of resistance to the commercial aspect of the holidays, the secular Santa Clause, and the customs that some people are quite devoted to that I am not. I hate shopping at over-crowded stores and the drive to make the holiday perfect for my family. The lights on houses and businesses are pretty, but I can feel the planet cringing at the unnecessary use of resources.
Now that my children are grown, I no longer have the pressure to live up to the hype they hear at school and from the other kids, which is a relief. I no longer feel the pressure to be and do everything that I wanted when I was their age. But it’s also not near as much fun. I loved buying them toys, games, clothes, and do-dads when they were little. It was so easy to make them happy!
Now that they are grown-up, happiness isn’t as easy to evoke. Their wants are different and I’m less likely to know what they are. The things they talk about needing are things that are out of my budget: a new engine for the car, furniture for the new apartment, computers, transmissions, etc. I’d like to fulfill their every wish and need, but I can’t and probably shouldn’t even if I could. We’ve tried to downsize the extravagance of the holidays in recent years out of necessity and the recognition that it just isn’t healthy for us financially or emotionally. We don’t have to be big gift-givers to demonstrate our love.
But then things feel scrooge-ish, which isn’t any fun, either. Somehow I want to show a generosity of spirit without focusing on abundance or lack thereof. This year, I’m not focusing on my obligation. I’m tuning into a sincere wish to express my affection through gift-giving. It probably won’t feel any different to the recipient, but it feels a lot different to me. After all, the gift is both in the receiving and in the giving.
I hope that your holidays are what you want them to be. Just don’t forget that you have some control over what you do. You aren’t required to do anything – it’s all optional!