Holiday Gifts, Christmas Presents, and other related symptoms of Materialistic Peer Pressure

This is sort of a Grinch-like move, but, I’m so UGH about Christmas presents right now…🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁🎁

My earliest memories of Christmas presents are a fuzzy spattering of combing through the toy catalogs, circling everything I wanted, then narrowing it down to a specific list. I would probably get one or two “big” items, which I think were generally under the $100 price tag with some exceptions and of course the classic combo xmas and bday gift for more expensive things, which I remember happening a few times. It was the expectation set for me and my three brothers: Gifts came from Mom and Dad, never Santa, and the budget was always pretty modest. And it was fine. I remember being really excited about the gifts and Christmas in general, but even sitting here trying specifically to remember the gifts, I’m having a hard time what exactly I got. The only things coming to mind are random items that I’ve seen in my “Facebook memories” photos recently. [Sidenote – Isn’t that strange how photos of the past and memories can sometimes get mixed up in our head? I think a lot of our “oh I remember that” is actually a memory of seeing a photo or video. Anyway, topic for a different discussion…]

So now, here we are, two days on the other side of Christmas, and not only is my Facebook feed full of the normal/expected smiley Christmas family + opening gifts photos (which I have posted quite regularly myself – look at all this cool shit I got!), it’s also full of people complaining about needing to exchange gifts, or the massive amount of money that was spent, or on the other hand, not so subtle humble-brag photos of mountains of gifts or expensive items with logos carefully centered in the photo. Honestly, it all rubs me the wrong way, even though, yes, I have done my fair share of present picture posting in the past, and I don’t think that’s entirely wrong. It’s just kind of UGH to me now, looking at the big picture.

Here’s a disclaimer to get out of the way right now – I don’t have a lot of extra money to throw around for unneeded gifts, so I’m sure my criticism of our collective gift obsession could come across as being jealous of people who can afford to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on Christmas gifts. Sure. BUT, I honestly think that even if I had more money than I knew what to do with, my attitude would be pretty similar. And to put a fine point on what my exact attitude is, here you go: Can we chill on the presents????

According to Investopedia, the average American was expected to spend $967.13 on Christmas GIFTS this year. That doesn’t include all the other holiday expenses, food, drinks, entertainment, travel, etc. I’m sorry, but this is an INSANE amount to me.

I totally get and believe that people can do WHATEVER the heck they want with their money, but the part that gets me is that, as a society, we are such followers, that all it takes is a few Facebook posts or neighborhood conversations or ads showing kids with countless presents under the tree for that decision a few people made to suddenly be seen as the minimum standard for everyone else. Peer pressure is real. It’s not something we left behind in high school.

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Non gift part of Christmas I love – Decorating with my helper 🙂

I’ll give two examples from my own life. First, my husband, second, my daughter. [Sidenote – It’s crazy how having your own family suddenly gives you a mini case study and/or new perspective on just about any issue.] First, husband. Bless his heart, he always wants to go ALL OUT when it comes to gifts, which means I’m always the one setting price limits and telling him “no don’t buy that outrageously priced item that I kinda want but don’t really need”. There are a few things going on here – I know he is the type who likes to make people happy by giving them things and takes a sense of pride from being able to give NICE things. I know his intentions are good (no criticism there, if he’s reading this…) but the pride aspect comes from this social peer pressure that I mention above. For me, it kind of sucks to have to shut down the big gift giving because he just wants everyone to be excited and happy on Christmas, but honestly, if he spent almost $1000 on Christmas gifts I would definitely NOT be excited or happy. First, we just don’t have that money to throw around and second, because THAT IS RIDICULOUS!!!!! There are so many more important things to spend money on, or hey, save those pennies! We do have a growing child who will just get more expensive the older she gets… which brings me to my second example, my daughter.

Depending on where she goes to school, her friend circle could very well end up full of kids who get a lot of expensive gifts under the tree. That’s never gonna be her, no matter how much dough I rake in as she grows up. So now, I have to think through how we navigate that as she gets old enough to understand why she doesn’t get as many presents as other people. Is it possible to avoid this freaking materialistic, present-obsessed attitude that is SO PERVASIVE? Can I possibly raise her to be somebody who NEVER feels the need to simultaneously brag about all the gifts she got and complain about how she didn’t get XY or Z? I’m thinking through these questions, and since she is only 1, I have a tiny bit of time. What I do know, is she already hates sharing and has quite the attitude for a 1 year old, so I may have my work cut out for me… (-; 

[One idea that I like is something that I THINK I read from Kristen Bell, and that’s the concept that for every new toy her kids get they have to donate one of their old toys. Maybe this is something I’ll try over the next year as my daughter is growing up and learning how to communicate and understand concepts like this. We shall see!]

In summary, here’s my semi-grinchy plea that I know will mostly be ignored but I’m hoping more people gradually adopt – LET’S COOL IT ON THE CRAZY GIFT OBSESSION EVERY HOLIDAY SEASON! Let’s stop arbitrarily spending a ton of money on shit we don’t need because the calendar tells us it’s time to. I am so over this expectation. I’d be cool with treating every holiday like Halloween, an excuse to dress up and have parties, decorate, and eat candy, but NO PRESENTS. Cool? Cool.

2 thoughts on “Holiday Gifts, Christmas Presents, and other related symptoms of Materialistic Peer Pressure

  1. Nothing wrong with giving gently used things that the kids and adults can enjoy. We also limited gifts to about 3 apiece one major gift and it could be used,books article of clothing thru the year I went to rummage sale and thrift shops or would receive gently used things from friends or relatives and regift. Taught my kids about thrift stores and now they are great proponents of ” thrifting”. It is a great example to your daughter to teach her how to make do and be creative. A small heartfelt gift is much better than a ton of ” stuff”

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