Tuesday, November 25, 2008

'Tis the season

Oh the brutal materialism of an American Christmas. Megan McArdle overheard Suze Orman responding to a question as to how to pay for toys at Christmas which prompted her to write the following:
I know that my parents expended a lot of precious money and time on my Christmas gifts. But with a few exceptions (a certain Raggedy Ann and Andy Pen and Pencil Set comes to mind, along with my very own Beach Boys "Endless Summer" casette"), what I remember about Christmases is not what I was given, but the non-material traditions: the food, the family, the snow angels and crackling fires. This is true of basically everyone I know. So why do we continue to think that the gifts are the most important part?
My parents also tended to go overboard. They continued to "sell the farm" each December even after my brother and I discovered Santa was a sham. Of course I'm not going to tell them to stop, but at an early age I did find it excessive. Now that my parents have competing Christmases I see the potential for an all out arms race of gifts. Hoping to cut this off at the pass, I've asked them each to get me one truly thoughtful gift. Honestly, that's all I want for Christmas from anyone I love - if they feel compelled to get me anything.

My favorite Christmas memories:
  • Decorating the tree with ornaments made throughout my childhood and collected on family vacations.
  • The sheer anticipation - waiting at the top of the stairs with my brother to go down and see what Santa brought.
  • The huge breakfast my dad made which we always ate while watching the Christmas Day parade.
  • Going over to Grandma and Grandpa's house later that day to celebrate all over again. The special prayer that my Grandpa always says before we eat. Each year, he surprises me with the most insightful blessings and always ends, "Bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies and us in thy service - in Jesus's name Amen."

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