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Love me, love my gift

Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 in Happiness, Parenting, Relationships

The Kid has been unusually nice to me lately — offering to take out the garbage, walk the dog (and clean up her poop), asking me how my day was (which almost sent me into cardiac arrest).

Might that have anything to do with Christmas?

© Caroline Henri/

© Caroline Henri/

Despite all his best efforts, there isn’t going to be much “there” there under the tree this year. And, I’m feeling really good about it. Even if the world (and, especially, me) wasn’t in such bad economic shape, I can’t help thinking — don’t we have enough stuff? Do we really need polyester Mickey Mouse boxers, “I (heart) Beer” mugs and remote control hamsters that kids will forget about — or break — before the next fad hits?

I remember one year when The Kid was a toddler; I watched as he ran down the hall — wide-eyed as he took in the bounty underneath the tree — and then spent hours playing with the shiny wrapping paper, ribbons and bows! OK, that hasn’t happened in years, but I have wrestled with the message of excess and consumption that the world — and, yes, I — have thrown at him.

I’m not sure it ever was the right message, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be the right one now.

The world he is inheriting is, among other problems, an ecological mess. As a parent who has raised a child to be open-minded, tolerant, kind, mindful and moral, how could I in good conscience help turn that child into yet another a mindless consumer?

Do the iPods and Zhu Zhus and “French maid” wine bottle covers we buy for our friends, lovers and family prove that we love them — or even that we really know them? A lot of times, we get or give stuff because we had to get something. That’s not a gift; that’s a total lack of imagination and sincerity. (Even jewelry, the “sign” of true love, can mean trouble; I’m always worried my guy’s sucking up.)

It’s foolish to think people will ever stop giving Christmas gifts, eco-catastrophies be damned. But, maybe we can be more mindful and creative. OK, yeah, I whipped out the charge card for The Kid. As for Sean, I haven’t spent a cent, but you can be damn sure what I give him will be, uh, priceless.

  • What’s the best gift you’ve ever gotten?
  • Given?
  • Would you be hurt if your partner didn’t give you a gift?
  • Do you struggle with mindless consumerism?

No matter what you celebrate, hope it’s a happy and healthy one!

Bring on the comments

  1. G says:

    Sounds like you’ve seen “What would Jesus Buy?”

  2. Steve says:

    I can barely remember any of my material gifts.

    I remember the experiences I’ve had with people the most — those deep meaningful moments and the super fun times.

    As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate the “high thought” gifts the most.

    My weakness with spending is eating out.

    In regards to mindless consumerism it seems like I get dragged into it to stay part of society. For example cell phones. They are handy for me once in a while, but I got by fine without them for the first few decades of my life.

    My father became a serious Catholic late in life. I like how he handles Christmas. He makes it into a religious holiday.

    He goes to religious services on that day and makes any gatherings about family, only.

    He contacts people way ahead of Christmas to explain how he wants the holiday to have meaning and not be “economic enhancement day”.

    Then he agrees to exchange gifts with only the closest people in his life. They agree to *one* gift each, with a ceiling of a fairly low value.

    If I was a Christian, this is the way I would do Christmas.

    I think fighting mindless consumerism is like weight control. The time to worry about it isn’t during the holidays, but all year long.

    One feast is not enough to keep someone fat, it is how they eat all year long.

  3. Honey
    Twitter: honeyandlance

    Jake loooooves gifts. Giving and receiving. So, sadly, though I am not especially into it myself, it will always be a big part of the season.

    Dave Matthews tickets was probably the best gift I got (and the most expensive, even though we’d only been dating 3 months!). I am less confident this year, but I usually get him exactly what he wants. I think he’s liked them all…

  4. Kat Wilder says:

    New blog posting, Love me, love my gift –

  5. Kat Wilder says:

    G — No, I haven’t even heard of it. But I think I can pretty much figure it out.

    Steve — I agree that experiences/time with loved ones are the best gifts … although there was that Christmas when I got the doll I really, really wanted … Your dad is onto something — Christmas … a “religious holiday”? Who wudda thunk?!

    Honey — That’s one of the (many!) compromises of love, I guess.It’s hard when, like in your case, he makes more than you do; sounds like you’ll have to be creative, too.

  6. Edgar says:

    My Kat mentioned the other day how stressed out people are this time of year. I noted that it’s all self-imposed, from what I can tell – now that we don’t have to worry about sabre-toothed tigers snagging us when we leave the cave for the outhouse, it’s just hunger in our midst and global warming that we have to worry about. And there’s nothing unique to this time of year on those fronts.

    While I would not go back to my altar boy days, I like Steve’s father’s approach – make this a season of service. I went to visit some seniors last night at an assisted living home. Many of them had no family to visit them or take them to a gathering, and they appreciated the visit. And, of course, as the solstice passes, celebrate the return of the light.

    I give my sisters and parents wine for Christmas. It’s good for their health.

  7. Kat Wilder says:

    Edgar — service and wine; very nice. And, who’s this other “Kat”? 😉