I’ve had a few people ask me this question over the past couple of days. Maybe you’ve been asked this recently, too.
It’s often framed as: “So, did you get spoiled this year?” or “Was Santa good to you?”
It’s a pretty common, innocent question. I mean, most people’s Christmas’ are filled with gifts – and I’m no exception. My family and friends bought me a lot of great, beautiful and thoughtful things this year and I spent a fair bit of money on them, too. But for some reason, no matter how many times I’m asked what I got for Christmas, that question always strikes me as a little bit odd.
Maybe because it reminds me of conversations I used to have with my girlfriends when we were 12. We’d call each other on the phone and rattle off our favorite gifts.
“Eeek! You got a new electric keyboard too?!”
“How many Lip Smackers did you get in your stocking?”
It was fun. And not that, as children, we ever meant to compare, brag or make our parents feel inadequate to other parents; it’s just that we were excited about all of our new THINGS.
But we’re adults now. I’m almost 30 years old. And to me, Christmas isn’t about gifts or presents.
I don’t mean to put anyone down who asked me or anyone else what they got for Christmas. I don’t think they are shallow or materialistic. I know they love their families and friends. I know that question is typical for this time of year and a great conversation starter. But all I’m saying is why does that question have to be asked before: “So how was your Christmas?” or “What did you do?” or “How’s the family?”
The first time I was asked this year what I got for Christmas, all I could think about was how my sister and her husband travelled up from Edmonton to spend some time with me and my parents.
The second time I got asked, my mind instantly went to the delicious, lavish meal that my mother whipped together in less than two hours.
The third time I was asked, I thought about the walk I went on with my mother in the afternoon.
I could hardly even remember a damn present that I got. I would just answer vaguely, “Oh yes, a lot of nice things.” “Yes, I got a lot of stuff.”
I guess what I’m trying to say is, it’s becoming more and more apparent to me that Christmas is not about the gifts at all. This sounds so obvious and cliché, but it’s true.
I know gifts are special and thoughtful, and I love giving them to people. But Christmas is really about the time people spend together. It’s about the memories.
For now on, when people ask me what I got for Christmas, I think I might say: A lot of family time.
What more could I ask for?
I challenge you take this Christmas message into the New Year with you.
Why do we have to have special dinners and gatherings only during the holiday season? Why wait until December 25 to tell someone special that you love them? Try to do this more frequently. The gatherings don’t have to be lavish – order in some pizza. Rent a movie. Play some card games. Does travel make this impossible? Try Skype.
In 2014, don’t let special gatherings happen in-frequently. Spend time with the people you love.
Remember: Everyday is a gift, that’s it’s called the present.
Don’t take time and people for granted.
Thanks for reading.