It may seem odd and bordering on extreme, but I did not buy a single material gift for anyone this Christmas. For the last few years, my family has decided to go present-free, with both my mom and dad skipping the tree, tinsel and colorful decorations in their respective households. Sometimes my parents and I will sneak each other a few small, useful things and I mysteriously get a new Spafinder balance every December, but that’s about it.
For my family, this is a time for conversations, cookies, hikes, belly laughs, Mom’s meatloaf, kitty snuggles, sitting in the backyard watching the sun set and reflecting on the last 12 months. We discuss which nonprofits we support, and what we are doing to make the world a better place. What excites and inspires us? What do we REALLY wish for?
When I turned 35 last month, I spent much of the day working, but in the week that followed, I went on two epic adventures that involved hiking, snowy mountains, wine and cupcakes. Experiences are what make us grow as humans, and I want more of those. While exchanging meaningful gifts is appreciated, going out of our way to buy clothes, electronics and jewelry just to make someone happy (or because society has engrained this in our brains) is a bit backwards. Imo, consumerism is only encouraging us to be more self-centered, rather than bringing us together for worthy missions. There’s also the argument from an environmental perspective: Quite simply, it’s incredibly wasteful. If we really want to GIVE, going minimal and scaling back might be one of the best things we can do to help ourselves — and others.
Lately I’ve been finding that giving back to the earth is much more fulfilling than status symbols, and I’d rather spend my time (and money) on causes and communities. I’m not saying I’ll never decorate a Christmas tree again, or that I frown on anyone who has, but it’s not something that’s important to me this year. What I wish for the most in 2019 is respect for the planet, happiness and better ways to communicate the truth. And those are things you don’t just go out and buy…you gotta work together for them.