Slow Down A Little Bit This Holiday Season

For me, Christmas hasn’t really changed over my entire life, it takes place on different days (my parents divorced when I was 18) but in general the theme has stayed the same.  The most important thing to me around the holidays is getting together with the people I love, whether it be on December the 12th or sometime in the middle of January when everyone can get  organized.   I like the food the drinks  and the parties.  I look forward to watching the World Junior hockey tournament that starts on Boxing Day every year and seeing people that I haven’t seen since Thanksgiving.

My favourite memory from when I was young (probably 10 or 12 years old) was sitting around the kitchen table by the roaring fire-place playing a board game (The Farming Game) and listening to a play on the stereo (Letters From Wingfield Farm) with my family – eating snacks and just relaxing, having a quiet day at home with nothing to do.  I couldn’t tell you what I got for Christmas for presents that year, in fact I can’t remember what I got last year either, but I can remember that afternoon (and many like it) from almost 20 years ago.

I think about how easy that afternoon was to organize (no organization at all) those afternoons and contrast that to the people I see roaring around the mall with three to five page lists of presents to buy for friends and family and wonder how much enjoyment these people are going to get from spending all the money they are going to spend.  Everyone has seen the VISA television commercials where people’s credit card bills magically disappear – what the credit card companies won’t show are the people paying for Christmas until next spring because they decided someone needed a special “thing” that was not affordable to them at all.

It seems that the holidays have become much more commercialized in the past 10 or so years, with the introduction of such things as super-expensive video game systems and fancy electronic toys.  “When I was younger there was no such thing as fancy electronics” (In the words of an old curmudgeon) – I didn’t own a video game system until I was 13 or 14 (which I bought for myself) and at most got a few toys that probably cost around $10-$15 each.  Fast forward to today when even cheap toys cost around $30 and I can understand why people go broke over the holidays.

I recently had a discussion with my wife and was talking to her about the cost of toys and how many toys we were giving to kids and how they wouldn’t even realize that we bought them this awesome “thing” because they are getting 20 awesome “things” to go along with it.  Remembering my favourite Christmases, it definitely wasn’t the forgotten toys that made it special – it was family, food, and laughter.  If more time was spent thinking about that then running around to malls, maybe people would be a little less stressed (and broke) at the end of the season – putting a little less emphasis on presents and a little more on visiting and fun.

Do you have any special memories/ideas for Christmas fun?  Can you remember any awesome toys you got when you were younger(maybe jog my memory)?

6 thoughts on “Slow Down A Little Bit This Holiday Season”

  1. Actually I remember the best talks at Christmas. We would learn more about each other as family in a few days than most of the year. I don’t know why but we always had interesting discussions during Christmas.

    As to kids toys. Find blocks. You know the wood ones with letters on the sides that you used to play with. My kids can build towers for hours with those things.

    Great post,

  2. I was born jewish but am now an atheist, so Christmas rarely meant anything to me beyond a day off from work with most of the stores closed.

    If I happened to be dating a jewish woman this time of year, we’d find a movie in a jewish neighborhood because they were never crowded.

    Makes for easy Christmas shopping, too (i.e. none or close to it).

  3. We decided to just buy for the kids this year and it’s certainly taken a lot of the stress out. I think the gifts are more for us adults as I do enjoy seeing the look on the kids faces. Even if it is for only a few minutes.

    You’re right though my best memories have absolutely nothing to do with gifts. Although my PS3 gift from the wife and family was pretty awesome, but that was a birthday gift.

    My favorite memory was the power going out and having to finish cooking the turkey in the fireplace. That and playing games to candle light. Loved it!

  4. @ Tim – I would have loved to buy blocks, but we weren’t really given the option on people’s Christmas lists (all monster trucks and other toys like that)

    @ deegee – your holidays seem a lot more laid back then mine, I’m jealous.

    @ Andy Royer – I was thinking about broaching the “no presents for adults” next year – I think I’ll start in about August……I had the best times when I was little when the power was out – something about cooking on a wood stove and no television.

  5. I used to love the holiday season as well. I used to hate the fact that my parents did not buy me expensive clothes and toys but I used to be super-excited about what little I got. Looking back I think if they had bought me everything I had asked for I would not have been as happy as I was just getting a single gift or item of clothing that I wanted the most. There is a lot of happiness to be had in a simple life which I now miss and I am trying to re-simplify my life again…

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