The following post is an answer to a question posted over at The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group from Donna who asked about “Getting extended family on board for a non-consumer Christmas?”
The calendar may say October 3rd, but for many Americans, the Christmas season is already starting to ramp up. The lead-up to Christmas, rife with incessant elevator music-style carols, family pressures and animatronic swiveling-hipped Santas make me hate Christmas. Big time. However, I don’t want to pass this attitude along to my sons.
I guess a little background is in order. I am Jewish, but my mother isn’t and we always had a Christmas tree and visits from Santa Clause when I was growing up. My husband is not religious in any way, although his parents grew up going to church. Having neither Jesus nor consumerism in my life, Christmas is more a stressful chore than anything else. We do not exchange Chanukah gifts.
For many people, the pressure to participate in expensive gift giving or to happily receive cluttery unwanted gifts can be an annual burden.
So . . . should you just grit your teeth and smile through a season of giving up on your frugal and simple living goals?
Now is the time to start those conversations with family members. Talk to your parents, your siblings, your spouse. That well meaning friend who overwhelms you with expensive gifts. But here’s the key, don’t simply suggest an abrupt stop to gift giving. You might try suggesting a replacement of your normal gift giving tradition with something else. Some families have tried the “handmade gifts only” route, or only giving to kids or simply drawing names.
For my family, the ramping down of Christmas gift giving was a series of conversations. My father and step-mother were very happy to stop exchanging gifts and to just give to the grandkids, as were my sister and brother-in-law. However, my mother and step-father were horrified at the notion, so we do still exchange adult gifts with them. My in-laws wanted no part in a stop of buying gifts for their adult children. So . . some progress.
The way that I keep Christmas under control is to stick with my normal shopping habits, even when it’s for gift giving. I still shop at thrift stores, look for cheap deals online, (like theater tickets) and I allow myself to be less than perfect. My husband and I differ on this, and we end up conflicted on how to provide a positive Christmas experience for the kids without dropping hundreds of dollars. He already knows that I will return pretty much any and all expensive gifts that I receive. (One year he bought me my own copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette and a $150 purse. Guess which one went back to the store?)
I guess I don’t really have a definitive answer on how to put a Non-Consumer Christmas together.
Has your family found ways to usher Non-Consumerism into your traditions? Please share your ideas in the comments section below.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”
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