Christmas is too complicated and frustrating. Throughout the year, we spend most of our time shifting through junk that we may not need, or may need, just not now, or may never need, just to find what we really want. We organize and categorize with an attempt to prioritize. Then we box up and put away the things we think we don't need only to stumble across it years later and swear we still use it all the time, and therefore must keep it. Or when we are feeling charitable, we pack up stuff to give away to Goodwill, or sell for cheap at a yardsale. Then, with our newfound free space we buy more until we need to sort through it again.At last, the Christmas season arrives and we shop for Christmas presents, some for hours ... others for days. We browse aisles of stores we normally never go into hoping that something will catch our eye and remind us of somebody and thus make the 'perfect' gift we have to give to show our gratitude for that person. Sometimes we put thought into a specific need, yes, but mostly this holiday has become about giving from our wallets, rather than our hearts.When my mom first told me that Santa really didn't exist, I almost cried. I didn't cry because I saw this as a loss of Christmas presents, but because I was enamored with the idea that one man could be so generous that he spends his life making kids happy ... only to find out he didn't exist. That very day, mom told me that Santa's initials, S.C., stood for the "spirit of Christmas." And indeed, Santa embodies the spirit of giving selflessly — the spirit of Christmas.Yet, now as a young adult, I find myself struggling with these concepts still. I see houses filled with things that are just things. Little nick-knacks we keep around and somehow get emotionally attached to and use to prove our existence. We exchange clothes that remain in the closet, along with the other 50 outfits we could wear instead — yet we have "nothing to wear" for that special occasion. But it's not only clothing; it is everything — it all is pointless. Yet we feel this compelling voice telling us that you have to show your loved ones that you care by buying them things. So we get caught in this social war in which nobody wants to be the first to call a cease-fire.Let me remind you, we have so much stuff — too much stuff. And I don't want any more. This year, I am bowing out of the tradition of giving things. To keep with the social tradition — after all, I wouldn't want anybody to think I don't love my family — I am on a mission to theme my presents as experiences, and cherished memories rather than things. And I challenge each of you to do the same, if not for everybody, then just for me. Because personally, I can't fit any more stuff into my closet. My drawers are all filled, and I cannot think of any more things that I need beyond the food on the table, a warm place to sleep, and loving family around me.
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