No big red bows for me
Dec. 21, 2018
by Ivan Raconteur

What is the meaning of Christmas?

The answer may vary depending on who we ask.

Some may see it as a deeply religious time, while others may embrace a more secular view. Still others may look at Christmas as an excuse to try to impress people with their ability to spend extravagant amounts of money.

I had the television on while I was getting some projects done around the house this weekend.

I had the sound muted, but I think I have a pretty good idea what was going on.

Madison Avenue wants us to believe that the average American couple gives each other new vehicles for Christmas.

I hope that is just wishful thinking on the part of advertisers, but based on the number of car commercials that flashed across my screen, it appears they are investing a lot of money trying to sell the concept.

The companies that make those giant red bows must be doing some brisk business at this time of the year. I wonder how much they get for those things. I suppose people who buy new vehicles for Christmas presents probably don’t worry about things like that.

Next in order of frequency seemed to be ads from jewelry stores.

The message there seemed to be “if you really love your wife/girlfriend, you will buy her a diamond big enough to choke a horse for Christmas.”

The implication, of course, is that if you don’t spend a fortune on bling, you are a piker, and your lady will be too embarrassed to go out in public for the next year if she’s not dripping in diamonds.

Even people who live on a more modest scale seem to turn Christmas into some sort of competition.

Is the point of the season to see who can have the largest pile of gifts under their tree? It sure seems like that’s the goal for some people.

I still enjoy giving Christmas gifts, just as I always have, but it is more about taking the time to think about things people might enjoy, and finding treats for the special people in my life.

It is definitely not about going to some retail emporium and stuffing my cart with all the commercial goods I can carry.

I think my attitude about Christmas may have changed some over the years.

Lately, it seems I spend more of my time reflecting on friends who are far away, or recalling happy memories of those who are no longer with us.

To me, the Christmas season is a time to kick back and watch a classic Christmas movie or two while sipping a refreshing adult beverage. It is about listening to old Christmas songs and conjuring up scenes of Christmases past.

Christmas for me is also a time to step back from the rat race for a moment to give thanks for all that I have.

I’m blessed to have a host of quirky, wonderful, special people in my life, and they are worth far more to me than anything that can be found online or in some gargantuan retail den of iniquity.

The beautiful thing about these human gifts is one never gets tired of them. Their value does not depend on me seeing them every day. Long periods can elapse between meetings, and I know we can still take up where we left off without missing a beat.

I also find that I take more joy in clearing out than accumulating material things.

While I have a long way to go, I believe de-cluttering can bring peace and reduce stress. There is even satisfaction in learning what we can live without.

I don’t suppose there are any big red bows in my future, but that’s OK with me. That’s not the kind of Christmas I want, and I don’t think I’d ever be able to figure out how to keep a vehicle spotless outdoors in the middle of a Minnesota winter anyway.

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