This weekend marked the annual Santa Claus Parade in the small town where I grew up. The lights, music, and smiling faces of the young and young at heart were all lovely and “right” for the season. Moms, dads, and grandparents had their phones out capturing images of little Johnny’s first look at Santa or of Sally marching with her band – many of those images immediately posted to social media so family and friends who were not there could share the moment.
This is one of the benefits of social media – the capacity to instantly share a special moment with a loved one who cannot be physically present.
However, we spoke last time about the pressures that may come with too much social media and measuring our own worth by mere highlights of others’ lives.
When we engage in these kinds of comparisons, the pressure to “keep up with the Joneses” can be exhausting. And this pressure that we put on ourselves extends beyond the emotional to the fiscal at this time of year. Research indicates that greater exposure to social and other forms of media (and the related for-profit ads) drives materialism and higher consumer spending.
No great surprise there…
What might surprise you is that the same research uncovered that a high value on materialism was connected to greater levels of depression and anxiety, a higher rate of physical problems (especially headaches and stomach problems), and a greater sense of dissatisfaction and general discontent with their everyday lives. Materialistic values were found to not satisfy basic psychological needs of connection, competence, and freedom.
So is our giving at Christmas driven by a desire to be generous or simply to meet cultural expectations of materialism?
How do we avoid this mass materialism in what has increasingly become a consumer-driven season?
Is it possible to enjoy the holidays and still give to those we care about without feeling like the legendary Mr. Scrooge before his miraculous Christmas Eve transformation.
Give from the heart.
Give a gift of service.
Give a gift of time.
Giving from the heart is truly blessed. One only need look as far as the toddler reaching up to give you a wilted dandelion or the pre-schooler handing you his latest drawing to see that generous and loving gift giving does not need to mean great cost.
I truly enjoy gifting the people in my life but I also love to save…so, I frequently scour the internet for gift ideas that don’t break the bank. For me, it can be “easy” – cooking is a real pleasure to me and baking some homemade goodies for those I care about is both a gift of love and a way for me to engage in some much-needed self-care. If you don’t cook, what about the gift of a night of babysitting for the new parents on your list? Or offering winter walkway clearing for the senior you’d love to spoil.
One of my favourite Christmas gifts was a “re-gift”…my grandmother gave me her pearl necklace. That gift meant far more than any newly minted store-bought trinket ever could.
Christmas giving doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank.
If you have a hard time coming up with your own ideas, check out some of these great resources for ideas on homemade, handed-down, or service gifts.
And, as always, if you are ready to make a change in your life but you’re just not sure how to do it on your own – reach out and contact me…you don’t have to do this by yourself.
-The Coffee & Conversation Counsellor