By Emily Reeves
Three siblings, two parents, three aunts, two uncles, five cousins, three grandparents: my gift-giving list for this holiday season. I expect somewhere around $20 per person for passing gifts, not to mention about how mother sent me on a guilt trip about how much my brother spent on us… see where I’m going with this?
That’s a crap ton of money for a college kid with a part time job. Not only is that a lot of money for me, but $360 is a lot for just about anyone, and people go into deeper debt for Christmas gifts than I would dream of doing.
Gift-giving culture is a major issue in our society today. It’s meant to build a sense of gratefulness in children and humbleness in adults, a way to build family bonds. In the end though, gift-giving becomes a competition. Children love some gifts and hate others, and everyone wants to be the “cool aunt” when the family goes back home.
As a result of the competitive nature of gift-giving during the holidays, adults literally go into debt for gifts they can’t afford for themselves, much less someone else and cousin Bob and Uncle Jack. Follow this to its logical end and we see individuals willingly putting themselves into poverty so they can keep up with the Jones’s gifts around the tree.
What have we ended up with? A perverted holiday about being humble and loving twisted into trying to be the favorite; perfect breeding grounds for pride and conflict.
I wouldn’t give up giving presents on Christmas altogether, that is some of its charm, after all. I would suggest, however, maybe cutting down on giving presents to extended family members. Odds are you don’t know them well enough to get them anything they would like anyway, right? Just take the time you would spend opening presents playing an inclusive game or watching cheesy movies instead.
Whatever you choose to do, remember that Christmas is a time for togetherness, not a time to tear open old wounds because you get jealous over someone else’s gift or bond with another family member. Happy holidays.