When the commercialization of the Holiday Season kicks in to high gear after the clock strikes twelve on Halloween, I refuse to buy in. It makes me a bit grumpy, even. I also reinforce a few family rules I’ve implemented, like no Christmas music allowed in the McBride house until December 1. I have limited success enforcing it but valiantly persist in trying to defend the principle of the rule. I’m the one who puts up the Christmas lights at the McBride house, so there will be none of those lit up until December.
But as November rolls along I’m forced to accept that the Holiday Season casts a grip well beyond a couple of weeks in December (and late November this year). My daughter, a proud new employee at David’s Tea, announced last weekend that she has finished her Christmas shopping (I anticipate a lot of tea under the tree this year) and I’ve been invited to a Hanukkah dinner party at friends next week. I’m booked in for the SCI BC Vancouver and Prince George Peer Holiday dinners on December 11 and 12, respectively.
It’s here. It’s happening. I have to accept it.
It’s not that I dislike the Holiday Season. I love it. It’s just that there is a lot of extra stress caused by an unnecessary focus the material aspects of the season. So much fretting about what to get everyone. And then the fretting about how much it all cost and how to pay for it all.
For many, financial hardship and social isolation are exacerbated at this time of year. We know this is true for some of our members (past and present). It can be hard to find the joy when depression or anxiety gets in the way. Hard when trying to get through the next day becomes the priority.
Rather than fight it, this year I’ve decided to embrace the ever-expanding Holiday Season. As always, I’ll enjoy watching Elf, A Christmas Story and Rudolf. I look forward to the parties and seeing friends and family I get to see but once or twice a year. I’ll enjoy eating half of the Holiday baking I do each year.
But this year, I’m going to make a concerted effort to spend less on material gifts and more on ones that better reflect the generosity of the Season. I’m going to embrace Metro Vancouver’s green gifts initiative and give gifts that produce less waste. Some gifts I’ll make myself (I already have a pantry full of Imperial Peach Mango Chutney my wife and I make for gifts each year). For others, I’ll donate my time helping in their gardens, which is a bit of a selfish gift because I love gardening. I’ll look to give the gift of a donation in friends’ names to local organization who do great work and that I know make important impacts in our community.
The $20 I could spend on a frivolous thingamajig that may get used once or twice or never at all would make for a rewarding gift to BC Wheelchair Sports Association – both for the individual whose name I gave the gift and for BC Wheelchair Sports and the awesome work they do. Plus there’s a tax incentive, and what says Happy Holidays like an official receipt for income tax purposes? Really, it’s a nice little bonus.
There are lots of different ways to give to charitable organizations like SCI BC and ways to encourage others to do the same. I’ll explore some of these ways in upcoming blog posts, including some of the things my friends and I will be doing this year to make the Holiday Season more about meaningful giving.
So far from being a Grinch, I’m looking forward to being an enlightened Ebenezer Scrooge, enjoying a less commercial, more joyous, generous and rewarding 6 weeks this Holiday Season.