This is nothing.

(Make sure you read my PS at the end.) It’s the Christmas shopping season. Today I went into a store. Maybe it’s been too long. I was astounded by the prices for stuff I considered junk – clothes that didn’t look flattering or stylish, toys that were mostly modeled after cartoon characters or required batteries and played inane songs, electronics that would take way too much time to figure out the best deal. The problem is that I really want to buy a Christmas gift for each member of our immediate family, but I also don’t want to waste money on stuff that doesn’t deserve it. (Unfortunately, I don’t really enjoy cooking so that kind of gift won’t work.)

Several years ago our family did what we called a “Nothing New Christmas.” We agreed not to buy anything new for each other but rather to make things, buy stuff used, or provide a service. I was impressed with each person’s creativity and it was fun – for one year. We decided not to repeat it the next year, but now I’m afraid I’m feeling quite bah humbugish. Maybe it’s the Christmas over-hype. Maybe I’m tired of Christmas starting earlier. (It feels like it’s been going for almost as long as the recent election cycle.) I miss the quiet, waiting in the dark; the feeling of longing that goes with Advent. Maybe I’m just getting old. 🙁

Bottom line? I didn’t buy anything. Giving stuff away has made me more cognizant of what is really worth buying and having. It’s nice to have a few nice things, but having a lot of stuff no longer appeals to me. Perhaps if I still had young children at home it would be different. They need clothes as they grow and I don’t begrudge kids some toys and entertainment beyond banging on pots and making a fort in the woods or the living room. Still, the over consumerism of our society is starting to wear me down. Can’t we just get together, enjoy each other with some food, play a game, and sing. It used to be so much simpler.

Maybe I’m just in a bad mood. Maybe it will pass. Maybe some chocolate would help.

PS: After reading this post over, I started to realize that it was a downer and I needed to exercise my “Gratitude Offensive.” When I get into a funk or start complaining or being unduly judgmental I’ve been trying to train myself to STOP and notice all the good things that are happening in my life (or at least realize that it could be a lot worse.) So, I did a quick mental review of things I am grateful for today:

  1. At least I recognized that I slipped into being judgmental, had the good sense to try to turn it around.
  2. There’s a whole lot of people who are prompted at Christmas time to see how they can give to others. There are also people who still love me despite my complaining,
  3. I’m not sick plus we have health insurance.
  4. I have good friends  – one of whom invited us over for dinner tonight.
  5. I didn’t miss my plane the other day – even though the timing was tight.
  6. I still have some chocolate mousse in the fridge.