We’ve all heard it said that Christmas has become too materialistic, so how can we change that?
Ah, Christmastime, commonly known as the most wonderful time of the year. Thoughts of our loved ones living far away occur more often, countless homes across the world display an elaborately dressed-up tree in the front window, and the pressure to find the perfect present for our family and friends is on.
We live in a Christmas-obsessed society – so much so that we insist on playing holiday tunes the second Halloween has passed. Thanksgiving is treated as the Christmastime appetizer, the sorta holiday to get through so we can finally enjoy the big kahuna of holidays.
But despite our obsession with Christmas, most of us who celebrate it were given a pretty materialistic understanding of its purpose: the presents upon presents. The honest truth is that, growing up, we mostly cared about the magical moment of unwrapping a new gift with our name on it. The whole “love and togetherness” aspect of Christmas was just a nice afterthought.
Presents are nice, sure, but are they what makes life worth living?
Here’s the thing: presents are nice, sure, but are they what makes life worth living? Do we honestly remember every single gift someone gave us each year? I don’t. Instead, it’s the relationships we hold dearly, the people we care for most that outlast all the gifts, and carry far more significance and influence in our lives. I love a diamond necklace as much as the next gal, but when I feel lonely or lost, I’ll be calling my best friend, not a necklace.
So how can we make this Christmas focus on love, friendship, and togetherness, instead of gleefully counting the presents with our name on them?
Exchange Hand-Written Cards
There’s a certain unmatchable beauty in writing a letter to someone you cherish. The act of sitting down and crafting a letter to them, letting them know how much they mean to us, accomplishes something that a present can’t. When we write letters, we’re able to commemorate the place in life we’re at, the unique meaning our relationship to this person holds at that point in time – and we’ll be able to look back at these letters in 50 years’ time and reminisce. And can you imagine how cool it would be to read yearly letters between your grandmother and her mother, or her best friend?
Volunteer As a Family
Christmastime isn’t jolly for everyone. For some, it can bring about loneliness, bitterness, or desperation. Not everyone has a lovely home in which to gather around the fireplace. That’s what makes it so meaningful when we volunteer at a soup kitchen, a nursing home, or anything similar in your area. Volunteering as a family or group not only allows you to spend time together with the ones you love, but to do something worthwhile and loving in a season that can feel incredibly lonely for some people.
Do something worthwhile and loving in a season that can feel incredibly lonely for some people.
Limit Cell Phones and Social Media
We’ve all had that moment at the dinner table when we sheepishly realize every single person is on their phone, totally unaware of the world around them. Because our phones feel like an extension of ourselves, we don’t realize it when they’ve robbed our attention from the here and now. This Christmas, make it a priority to use your phone as little as possible – instead of watching endless Instagram stories all day or getting jealous of Heather’s new Tesla, we can turn our attention to the people sitting across from us at dinner.
Establish New Traditions
Nothing brings a group of people together like tradition. But a significant part of the reason we’re so hyper-focused on gifts is likely because that’s the only real Christmas tradition we ever established. Instead, create new traditions, starting this year – whether it be attending Midnight Mass together, making cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, gathering around the fireplace with hot chocolate on Christmas Eve, or always making the same duck recipe. Traditions that center around kinship rather than presents will help refocus our day.
Traditions that center around kinship rather than presents will help refocus our day.
Plan To Spend the Whole Day Together
Living with someone or being in the same house doesn’t automatically mean we’ve spent quality time with them. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own little world when we already see the same people every day at home, but why not try to make Christmas special? Make an effort to spend the whole day together – bake way too many cookies and take some to the neighbor’s, go on a walk with the dog, watch Christmas movies, even clean up the kitchen after dinner together.
We’d be lying if we pretended to hate presents, right? But even so, making Christmas about love, togetherness, and quality time beats out anything that could be under the tree.
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