Every year around this time, I revisit an all familiar feeling while shopping for Christmas gifts, guilt.
Why guilt, you might say, well, here is the thing, I love Christmas for what it represents, a holiday to celebrate family, and if you’re a Christian, we’re taught this is when we commemorate the birth of Jesus. However, somehow with that sentiment of tradition, also comes materialism and for many years now, shopping for gifts has made it’s way into the meaning of Christmas as a holiday. So, while I truly enjoy giving, I don’t enjoy the stress placed upon the holiday to get gifts for every person you know.
I am in the fashion business, there is no other business more materialistic that this one, however, I draw the line when it comes to family and tradition. I understand the reasoning behind gift giving during Christmas and how it is an expression of kindness towards one another. I do feel that more and more, we lose that sense of kindness, tradition and family and make it all about the gifts. Even the little ones only look forward to Christmas because of the presents. While shopping helps our economy it also hurts our traditions, and I think we owe it to ourselves not to allow commercialism to take over such a kind spirited holiday.
Going back in time, history tells us that it wasn’t always this way and there was a time when Christmas didn’t involve gift giving at all. In fact, some countries still don’t celebrate Christmas by exchanging gifts. I know it is the case in many Latin American countries, where no gifts are ever exchanged during Christmas. Some celebrate what is called, Three Kings Day, a holiday celebrated on January 6th every year. The tradition began because of the Three Kings that came to visit Jesus bearing gifts after his birth, as recounted in the Bible. The holiday is celebrated by giving toys and gifts only to small children, no adults or even children past the age of 10 are included. In ancient Rome, gifts were given during the New Year festivities. Eventually, gift giving started to become more prominent as established by the different cultures that came after, specifically the Victorians.
Ultimately, every country has its traditions and holidays and while I am an American from Latin descend I celebrate and embrace both traditions. I just think we ought to be conscientious of how our society is shaped and what values we are teaching our future generations.
I will continue to give gifts every year because I do love the face of my loved ones when I give them something they’ve wanted or have been looking forward to getting, which is why many people I know like giving gifts. I will try, however, to make it a point to start giving gifts just to the small children in my life, because they enjoy it the most, and also educate them on the holiday as a whole rather than just concentrate on the presents. I rather give nice gifts to my family and friends all year long whenever deserving or for no reason at all.
Materialism and even religion aside, let’s always remember what this holiday is all about: love, kindness, family and tradition, there is no other holiday like it.