Try Going Grinch This Xmas
Stop giving gifts to your family members this holiday season.
I know, it’s heresy to write this. Some of you may be wondering if I’ve turned into a Jehovah’s Witness or a Bernie Sanders supporter.
But I’m just speaking the truth. In our commerce-obsessed culture, the single most recognizable part of our end-of-year holiday tradition is the wrapped gift under the tree (or menorah). And by no means am I writing here to advocate for a particular approach, in terms of belief or practice, for the holidays. That’s totally your call.
This is a screed against compulsory gift gifting, plain and simple.
Embrace your “inner Grinch.” Put an end to the gift obsession. Just walk away.
That’s right, I’m bringing you word from the other side: You don’t have to do it. You don’t have to stand in line at Zales or Tiffany’s, waiting to buy that diamond tennis bracelet that the Mrs. will only wear a couple of times before she loses it anyway. There’s nobody forcing you, at the last minute on Christmas Eve, to rummage through the men’s section at the mall to pull out yet another lumpy sweater to give to your cousin Phil. He’s got enough ugly sweaters, trust me.
I speak from experience. About five years ago, my family decided, in what felt like a revolutionary act of anti-Santa blasphemy, that we would no longer give Christmas gifts to each other. There are six of us in my immediate family, plus four significant others for each one of the siblings (three brothers and a sister). We cast off the chains of holiday consumerism and have never looked back.
Now, before I go on to tell you about the glories of a gift-free Christmas holiday, a few provisos are in order. My immediate family is full of adults now. There are a few children of cousins, but they are babies too young to really care what’s under the tree. I’m not advocating for depriving kids of the mythology of Santa and his sleigh (though I do think it’s best to tell it as a story, not some bizarre ghost story involving a fat, bearded trespasser who whips flying deer and wants to steal kisses from mommy).
This is a screed against compulsory gift gifting, plain and simple… You don’t have to do it.
My parents always gave us great presents when I was a kid, and Christmas morning was very special for all of us. Kids should, within reason, get gifts, toys, treats, and all the rest on Christmas morning. Christmas should be special for children. The Sextons aren’t Commies.
And there should also be a clear exception for “gifts” that are really end-of-year gratuities and bonuses. If you tell your barber, doorman, housekeeper, gardener, etc. “sorry, I decided to go Grinch this year,” you deserve worse than just a lump of coal in your stocking. People who provide you good services all year deserve their holiday bonuses, and employees have families to buy gifts for and bills to pay. If someone is relying on you to come through with a little gift in their stocking, so to speak, then get into your best Christmas spirit and open up your checkbook.
I’m merely recommending that, among adult family members, tell everyone they are free. No more gift envy or drama. Stop stressing about who spent what on whom, what size your sister’s shoes are, and all the rest of the minutia that overtakes far too much of the last few weeks of December.
In my own family, it was a recurring joke that everyone could always tell which presents I was giving because it looked like “a drunk, angry elf” was in charge of wrapping them. And they weren’t wrong.
If someone is relying on you to come through with a little gift in their stocking, so to speak, then get into your best Christmas spirit and open up your checkbook.
The truth is, the older I get, the less I care about stuff on Christmas, and the more I want to focus on the experience of the holiday. The time spent with people you care about, hopefully without the burdens of imminent work hanging over your head, is a precious thing. And you will enjoy it more without being up to your elbows in the detritus of paper, ripped decorative bows, and Styrofoam peanuts across your floor. You might even take a few moments to feel truly blessed and think about the Big Guy upstairs.
By all means, get a big Christmas tree, buy decorations, bust out that Menorah or Kwanzaa wreath you’ve been eager to display. If you’re one of those over-achieving MacGuyver types, cover your entire house in Christmas lights. The holiday should be festive, and anything that can be done to make it a more joyous, pleasant experience is all to the good.
But Dr. Seuss was on to something decades ago when he published the story of the Grinch. That villain with a tiny heart stole all the presents from Whoville, but the villagers were singing with joy and love on Christmas morning anyway. It’s a quaint lesson, but a real one.
Christmas really isn’t about gifts at all, and the more focus you take off these distractions, the more the holiday starts to serve its real purpose – to refresh, reflect, and spend time with loved ones.
After all, time is the only gift you can give that you can never replace or get back.
Merry Christmas, American Consequences friends and family.
Buck Sexton is host of the nationally syndicated talk radio program, The Buck Sexton Show, heard on over 100 stations across the country. A former CIA and NYC Police Department Intelligence Officer, Buck is also the co-host of Stansberry Investor Hour, a weekly radio show that you can subscribe to for free right here: investorhour.com.