Santa Claus is Coming To Town, and I’m Leaving


Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?

~from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”

There’s that tagline in Game of Thones where the Starks keep saying “Winter is coming.” I think they got it wrong…I think what they actually meant to say is, “The holidays, and all the related stress, are coming. And they keep coming earlier and earlier every year.”

That terrible feeling of dread started no sooner than the Halloween clearance signs had gone up at the store. Out came the Christmas trees, the plastic Santas, the ridiculous canned carols. I’m used to it by now, having worked in retail for many years, but is it really necessary to slap a wreath on your door three weeks before Thanksgiving? Put up the Nativity scene when it’s a lovely 70-degree Indian summer day? You may eagerly anticipate the holidays, but for me, it’s like counting down the days to my own death by firing squad.

Every year I go through this gut-wrenching dilemma. I want to enjoy the holidays (by which I mean Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s,) but find it increasingly difficult to do so in a commercialized, greedy, entitled world. Some things just haven’t changed in the 46 years since A Charlie Brown Christmas first aired. What are we simple folk to do? How do we celebrate the real meaning of the holidays-family, genuine faith, love, and charity-in a maelstrom of candy-colored, empty commercialism?

To make things worse this year, I have to buy gifts for even more people than usual. Most of these people can afford to buy themselves the kinds of baubles I’d get them (unlike me, who diligently counts every penny.) What am I saying by buying that person a $20 piece of jewelry or popcorn tin? “Here, take this so you don’t think I hate your guts, which most of the time I probably do.”

I’ve already made my decision on gift-buying. I’ll be buying small, but heartfelt, gifts for those closest to me. Instead of gift cards or those awful generic gifts you see at most stores, I’ll comb the flea market and antique store for hidden treasure. In the past, this has been everything from coins from the year of the recipient’s birth to baseball cards to hand-knitted caps. Christmas should be about sharing and expressing real love, and these are the kinds of gifts which best express that love.

As for the “others,” from distant relatives to Secret Santa participants, I have a plan for them too. Handmade is the way to go, both economically and pragmatically. I’ll be baking a good many loaves of cranberry-walnut bread this year, along with pumpkin cookies and peppermint sticks. I’m not sure about you, dear readers, but I enjoy receiving these homemade delights exponentially more than those store-bought, preservative-laden boxed. I might even try and spark my creative side again, and pen some prose and poetry for special people in my life. There’s no way to make a young child smile quite like a personalized story.

And, lest I forget the true meaning of Christmas, I will be sharing what I can with those who need it a lot more than I do. I have an extra coat and a box of canned food to spare. I know they’ll be going to someone who really need them. Because, all things considered, I have a pretty good life.

They can keep the commercialism. I’m keeping the real meaning of Christmas.

How do you feel about the early advent of the holiday season? Do you have tips on making the most of gift-giving on a budget?

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on November 12, 2012.

2 Responses to “Santa Claus is Coming To Town, and I’m Leaving”

  1. Totally agree! We are increasingly choosing the send a cow style charity gifts (hope the link works, but it’s a UK one anyway, I have no idea how well known these are in other countries! http://www.sendacowgifts.org.uk/?gclid=CNW2z9KczLMCFUbKtAod7jwAkg

  2. This souds terrible im sure.. But i focus on family andfriends and spening time togeather on the 24th and 25th. We get eachother gift cards within out budget that go nuts on boxing day. Hings are half price, you get more its a fun day. We still do stockings on xmas morning and have a nice breakfast. Those two days are not about gifts for me, its bout family.

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