Monday, December 5, 2011


Christmas is just around the corner, and this year more than ever, I feel affronted by the commercialisation of it all. It makes me feel ill. What's happened to me? I'm told that I will make my family happy if I buy them 'stuff'. It is absolutely expected of me. People keep asking me if I have done my shopping yet? The shops keep telling me to buy. The ads on TV, the radio, in the newspaper - tell me I only have a few days left! There is this nagging voice in the back of my mind that tells me I'm mean spirited if I don't buy my children something - and something big. Won't they think that they are unloved? Will they compare me to their friends' mothers? Maybe I won't measure up as a mum. What will their friends think? And so my mind goes on and on tying me up in knots.

Is it wrong to buy something for someone else, rather than my teens and adult son, my husband - like chickens for a family in a developing country through charities such as TEAR Australia, or as I just did today - a book each (The Prisoner: An invitation to hope, Paul Everett) for the lonely prisoners I write to ? Is it wrong to put money into things we can share - like the vegie garden we've wanted to get started? Is it wrong to not spend money at all?

On Christmas day my best friend is coming down for lunch with her family. We have decided that we will not exchange gifts with the intention of turning the focus onto what Christmas is about - the birth of Christ, who would surely have a thing or two to say to us about what we have done with his birthday! I am looking forward to sharing conversation and laughter over a meal, playing board games, to a long walk in the late afternoon, and to just being in the presence of these people I love dearly. I know my children are too, and they have not shown any disappointment at the 'no gifts' idea. (Well at least when it comes to Christmas day. There are a few 'humphs' about no individual gifts at all. We are planning family conference about this. Homemade gifts - especially food, are a real possibility.)

It is difficult to broach this subject with some people, and so I usually don't. It can seem as though I am being self righteous, and not at all how I want to come across. I just want to be allowed to approach Christmas my way, without being labelled a scrooge and yes I would like to challenge my family to consider where we stand on this. Really we have more than enough. Our house can't fit any more. It feels almost obscene.

The first to visit Jesus at his birth were the shepherds. They were humble. They brought nothing but themselves. (Why do we forget this and think of the kings and their expensive gifts?) This Christmas I want Jesus to be enough to satisfy me. And I want to know that I am enough. The love of Jesus is not conditional on a gift. And thank goodness for that. I recently read that we are atrocious at gift giving. Apparently Americans give over 70 billion dollars worth of gifts that the receivers don't want or even like!

Now after reading this you may be surprised to know that I am a gift giver ( I actually love to give something of myself - a prized possession, something I've made, books that will make a difference, a letter or card...). I just don't believe that we have to give expensive gifts that will put us, or our loved ones, in debt. And if there is any time that we should remember this it is at Christmas when Jesus entered this world naked, with nothing but love to give.


  1. Asta -- great post. Every year I try to keep Christmas simple, and/or at least thoughtful, but I struggle with the consumerism and pressure of it all too. I'd like to think that I buy presents as a way of communicating: I thought of you...I pay attention to what you like & what comforts you...and sometimes I achieve that feeling in giving, but then there are gifts that get given just to satisfy the expectation. And that's a lot of pressure (interesting fact about the expensive rate of gifts in the US that aren't even wanted...I am not a bit surprised.) I also appreciate your words regarding the freedom to celebrate the way you like...and I wonder how the family conference will work out?

  2. Kate I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I don't feel quite so alone now.

  3. Hey Asta! I wrote a blog about this yesterday...and the way we deliberatley tried to combat this when our children were small. Easier said than done though.

  4. I wish I was coming down for Christmas day...sounds heaps of fun!! Gill

  5. Ah Jenny I am not surprised you wrote a blog on this. No wonder we work well together. We can only try, can't we? Thanks Gill for your encouragement. I am going into it with an open mind - not expecting too much, then I hope it will turn out to be a day of simple fun.