The commercialism of the holiday season hit me particularly hard this year. Normally I just brush it off, but something about listening to the cheery holiday music while it’s simultaneously trying to get me excited about the latest deals just didn’t sit right. It’s emotional manipulation, and we all know it. When do we infuse our ritualistic gestures of appreciation with commercialism? Why do I have to buy to show that I care? I’m tired of it, and this year I’m doing something different.
According to the National Retail Federation, retail shopping in November and December amounts to over $500 billion every year. Half a trillion dollars is spent on stuff for ourselves. We must care a lot about each other, because that’s a lot of money. That money would do a lot of good in the hands of someone who really needs it.
So this year I’m opting out. I’m not participating in the normal gift-giving rituals (much to the chagrin of friends and family), but it’s not because I don’t care. In fact, I’m starting my own ritual, which I think more closely resembles the spirit of the holiday season, and it consists of two parts:
- I will take the same amount of money I would have spent on gifts for that person, and donate it to a charity in their name.
- I will write a letter about the things I appreciate most about that person, and give it to them.
I know that some people already do this kind of thing during the holidays, so I’m hoping that it becomes a bigger thing. In my house, we’re lucky to have several iPads at home plus a ton of other gadgets.