In our household, a couple of years back, we made a decision no longer to give Christmas gifts.
This is not in a spirit of ‘Bah humbug!’ or holier-than-thou anti-consumerism. We just felt we’d reached a limit. None of us earns very much, and over the years we have given each other so many gifts of cheap jewellery and cosmetics, gloves, socks etc. We began to feel the anxiety, pressure and stress outweighing the joy and delight in the season. So we did what all sensible people would do in such circumstances: stopped.
There are a few exceptions. My beautiful mama, in her 88th year, is getting a bit old to change, so we always have a little bag of presents for her. The grandchildren are now old enough to care (a lot) about presents – and what can a child have that is not given? We don’t want to deluge them overwhelmingly, but we do give a little treat.
And we try to reach out and touch those whose lives are lonely, making sure to put something in the food bank, send shoeboxes to Operation Christmas Child, give a donation to Surviving Christmas (our local seasonal initiative for people who are destitute or just lonely and poor). And we try to by at least one thing from a crafter.
We got our tree – from a farm where reindeer come to visit at Christmas; so lovely! We chose a Nordman fir. We stood it in the window, so its beauty would bless people walking by. Hebe and Alice decorated it. Perfect (we think).
At least, most of us think it is perfect. But, as night fell, one of us sat looking at it thoughtfully.
How blessed are we to have such a generous, considerate person in our family. In the morning, when we looked at the tree . . .
. . . then looked again a little closer . . .
. . . we saw that, as a special surprise, during the night – just like Santa! – someone had left a present for us under the Christmas tree.
Yes, it is true that Santa is an anagram of Satan. But I think he’s only trying to make his contribution. Thanks, chum.