Wednesday, December 5

Amen, Sister...AMEN!

This post prompted me to send an email to all the friends with whom we usually exchange gifts at Christmas. In the email I linked to the post and then said.......

After reading this I got to thinking about the 3 bags of toys I recently donated to Vinnies and how so much of it was hardly played with. While it’s nice to know that it will now contribute to a charity it would be so much nicer to know that a child who really needed something could have had them as brand new toys.

I know that some of you may be considering giving gifts to Tom and I and/or the girls this Christmas and I really appreciate your kindness and generosity in doing so, however I respectfully request that you don’t. I would like to suggest an amnesty on gift exchange. This is not because I hate your gifts Yellow or because I am miserly and mean or because I don’t love and care for each and every one of you. It’s because it is not necessary. In my family, and I know for most of you, we all receive gifts at Christmas. Many, many gifts. The girls will get nice presents from Tom and I and then more from extended family. I’d really like to stop it there. They have so much already, more than they can ever play with, or wear or put in their hair or make or paint or cut up or join together. I know we’re not unique in this, every parent I know can testify to the ‘stuff mountain’ that their children have.

The things I remember about my own childhood Christmases have nothing to do with presents. I remember family gatherings, going to church in the snow (admittedly that’s probably not going to happen this year) carol singing, Christmas concerts, a big family lunch and watching ‘Wonderful Life’ on TV. Of course there were presents but they didn’t overshadow everything else. I want the same for Hannah and Aislin. If you are worried that they (or I) will think you don’t care I can assure you that won’t be the case. Next time you see them give them a hug or play a game with them or read them a story, I can absolutely guarantee they will love and remember you more for those things than for any present you could give them.

If you really feel the need to give gifts to us can I suggest that, instead, you please give a gift to a child through the Kmart Wishing Tree or St Vincent de Paul (who have a similar program of giving gifts to the needy - adults included) or donate to your favourite charity and think of us as you do it. Both Hannah and Aislin are donating gifts this year and Tom and I are also gifting through the Vinnies program. I’m really proud of the girls for doing that, in the link I sent you, point 2 says ‘it’s not about things’ and they are really understanding that now. I know we all would like to contribute less to the madness of Christmas consumerism and more to places it’s needed.

I really hope I haven’t offended anyone and that you don’t think me presumptuous in anticipating presents from you. If you are receiving this email it’s because you are considered a much-loved friend and someone with whom we’ve exchanged gifts in the past. I also know that any gifts you have given in the past have been given with love and generosity, as were the gifts we gave to you, and I do not dismiss that sentiment for a moment. I want you all to know that your love and generosity exist for me just as much, perhaps even more, without gifts. I’m looking forward to catching up with most of you before Christmas and I hope you won’t throw rocks at me.

Our love to you all and best wishes for the festive season
Merry Christmas

All but one person agreed wholeheartedly. I tried to explain to her that it didn't mean I was planning a Dickensian Christmas with the four of us huddled around a chicken leg and a mouldy potato and the girls each getting a broken coathanger in their stockings. To no avail, she was hurt and defensive. However, she has reluctantly agreed to respect my wishes.

When did it get so nuts? When did Christmas become about things and stuff? That really crept up on me and I guess only we can change it. And that's what I intend to do.

UPDATE: The one person who didn't agree suddenly rang me, out of the blue, saying 'I get it, I finally get it!!' there had been an incident that had prompted her to see what I was getting at and the penny dropped.

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