Christmas is that weird time of the year where everyone suddenly becomes super focused on family despite ignoring them. To this point, so few people are traveling outside of the US, most sites will recommend going abroad (http://www.priceoftravel.com/1702/18-cheap-destinations-with-great-weather-in-december/).
It’s no wonder that Christmas is a stressful time. While a persistent myth exists that suicides are more common during the holidays, it cannot be denied that stress it at an all time high as people figure out gifts, end their year of work, work on trips, and deal with family (http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/holiday.html). So, what is a secular person with no material desire to do? The simple answer is to live.
In the past few years, we have seen an interesting trend towards minimalistic living. Single-use devices are on the rise, like the Kindle, which allows you just to read a book. The franchises are failing in favor of local businesses. Even McDonald’s, a megalithic fast food giant, is starting to see a downturn where dozens of restaurants are closing. This is in contrast to the stark rise in local businesses booming.
So, what is the correlation between Christmas and this minimalized living? Consumerism is on the decline. For me, I learn that I am less about getting gifts for various holidays, and more about spending that time to do stuff I couldn’t with the stuff I already have. It helps too that many of products today are moving towards a digital layout. Books are readily available for cheap or free. What use to take some time to figure out where to go next, can literally be “Oh, this sounds nice,” and it is added to your device, and you can start reading. Thanks to sites like reddit.com/r/freeebooks and Amazon sales, I have over 100 books on my Kindle, not even including library books for which I am in queue. Even if each book took me only a week to read (and I read slow), I am looking at nearly two years of straight reading, and it is all contained on one device. That’s awesome!
I’m sure this mentality all comes from my growing age. As I exit my twenties, possessions are less valuable. However, it cannot be ignored that this is culturally growing trend. We have unlimited content for low prices. We can watch thousands of hours of movies and TV shows, as we want, for about $10 a month on Netflix. We can listen to really high quality content via podcasts for free. All this creates a devaluation of buying new things.
I don’t mean to dismiss the needs for gift-giving and receiving. A lot of people like to pretend they don’t care about that and just want family time for Christmas, but everyone who isn’t lying to themselves know that to be untrue.
For the holidays, enjoy yourself however feels natural, but most importantly, try to enjoy life. Your kids will love whatever they get, and if you use it with them, they’ll love it more. You’ll appreciate whatever you get but only if you use it. Scale down your lists, and try to just find time to enjoy other people.
And, grab a Starbucks, because while they are a corporation I don’t feel much for, their stance of showing no holiday imagery, while probably just a benign cost saving thing, is kinda cool because you can do whatever you want with the blank canvas.
And that’s a really cool gift.