I think I’ve finally got there. I’m Scrooge.
Maybe not. I think I’m just equally as disillusioned as everyone else is about gift-giving these days.
Christmas has lost the magic and wonder that it once had and it’s instead been replaced with high expectations from your children and peers of what they expect Santa to deliver on Christmas morning (don’t you remember when you had no idea what Santa would bring?).
This has obviously been going on for a long time, and some people my age may have been the same way when they were young as kids are today. And the parents don’t help matters, giving in to the onward march of capitalism into every avenue of their lives.
I have been ever more skeptical of capitalism after watching the creep of “Black Friday” move into Thanksgiving Day to the point where families are now not having dinner together, because they’re out fighting over a TV at Walmart.
I was very happy to hear that perhaps society has had enough as well. Black Friday sales this year were disappointing, perhaps because retailers are trying so hard to get the first Black Friday dollars that it’s no longer a day or even a weekend of sales, but a two-week event of lacklustre savings.
I also lament how capitalism has swept up the UK and created the same lunacy of fighting over TVs on Black Friday, despite not celebrating Thanksgiving. There is no Black Friday in the UK and the only reason it exists is to create more commercial hype and get people who are willing to fall for it to part with their hard-earned money (or more likely, another piece of their ever-dwindling available credit).
For me and my family, we’re not getting involved. I’ve never gone to Black Friday. At first it was because I don’t enjoy crowds or waiting in line for hours, but in more recent times, I avoid it because I actively despise how ridiculous it has become.
As we’re raising our daughter (and soon, our son), we want them to have a healthy respect for money and gifts, which centers around valuing what they have, and appreciating gifts what they are – an act of love – rather than a requirement, or expectation.
This year, we’re consciously scaling back on presents, both between ourselves and for our daughter. We’ll get each one or two gifts and that’ll be it. Christmas has become far more about spending time with family (as I remember it when I was much younger) than the presents.
Besides, I think that people are starting to realise that finding the right gift for anyone, even a close family member, has become extremely hard, because today, when we want something, we get it. Today. We don’t generally lack anything that costs less than $100 because our disposable income has never been higher and the cost of goods has never been lower, so the only things we don’t buy immediately are the enormous purchases like TVs and cars (while we’re on the subject, does anyone actually buy someone a car for Christmas? I can’t believe how many ads on TV are suggesting that you give someone a car for Christmas!).
My family in the UK (whom I’m visiting at Christmas for the first time since moving to the US, and who have never met Ellie) have found themselves in the same boat. They’re fed up with what Christmas has become and are just looking to get one or two presents for one another, but more importantly, to spend several days in each other’s company, playing games, eating, drinking and being merry.
And I think that many more people want to do that than will let on. I suspect there are a lot of people who will continue to be more and more extravagant each year because they think it’s what their family wants, when really, I think they’d appreciate it just as much spending some quality time together. Who knows, maybe I am Scrooge after all.