A Few Thoughts About Christmas

by Stephen Mills on December 18, 2010

The other day on a workday about 2:00 PM, I went out to run a couple of errands.  The traffic in the shopping areas was a congested mess.  People were everywhere.  I could imagine that many of these people were stressed and impatient, hardly in the “holiday spirit”.  I buy very few gifts for Christmas.  My wife takes care of that “duty” for the most part.  Partly it’s because I’m lazy, but mostly it’s because I don’t know what to give people who already have more than they need.  It all seems so pointless.  I’ve seen the lines in the stores after Christmas too; people returning all those thoughtful gifts they don’t want.

As a child my family travelled to visit my maternal grandparents twice a year; once in the summer and once at Christmas.  I’m sure I loved tearing open the packages and getting all the stuff.  The funny thing is with very few exceptions I don’t remember what any of that stuff was.  What I do remember fondly are the experiences I had with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  The only gift I clearly remember was a go-cart (one that operated on gravity not a motor).  The reason I remember it was because I remember the experience of racing those go-carts with my cousins down the hill on the street in front of my grandparents home on Christmas morning.  That’s it.

I have many memories of Christmas dinners and endless games.  My mother’s family loved games and we played them all the time.  Not purchased games, but the standard card and domino games.  I remember playing tennis with my cousin who was the same age.  I remember my aunt always kissing me because she knew I hated it.  I remember endless hours of those experiences, but I don’t remember what Santa brought.

What do YOU think?  Leave a comment and join the conversation.


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Fionna December 18, 2010 at 9:24 am

It sounds as though you have wonderful memories of Christmas. To me, the family spending quality time together is one of the best parts of Christmas, presents are just the frills. We will have a houseful this Christmas, there will be noise, a mess, and the dirty dishes will be never ending yet I will love every moment.
Merry Christmas to you and your family!


Positively Present December 18, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Great post. You’re totally right — I have many wonderful memories of Christmas but none of them include the gifts I received, which I suppose is a pretty good thing! Happy holidays!


John D. Buerger, CFP® December 19, 2010 at 11:02 am

My approach to the holidays has been (for years now) the same as my long-time approach to birthdays and other “special days.” Every day you are alive is a special day and should be celebrated. Super Holidays end up being an excuse for misdirected energy.

If there is a gift that will make a person’s life better – don’t wait until Christmas or their birthday … just give it to them. The challenge is that most people aren’t that connected to their environment, so they need a special day to focus on getting gifts for everyone else. Once the day has passed, they’ve “done their duty” for the year, feel they are off the hook and can go back to ignoring their surroundings.

Yes I am a cynic and this whole attitude drives my wife nuts.

As a kid I do remember some of the excellent gifts I received, but you’re right. I remember a lot more of the experiences of the holidays.
John D. Buerger, CFP®´s last blog post ..Financial Advisor- San Luis Obispo


Derrick December 19, 2010 at 6:38 pm

This is a fabulous post! Well said and I couldn’t agree more. Funny how I claim I don’t care what other people think. But I oh so wish more people thought that way. Merry Christmas!


Nea | Self Improvement Saga December 20, 2010 at 6:14 pm

I think it’s a shame that so many families feel their Christmas is ruined simply because they can’t buy as many gifts as they did last year. I think it’s sad that children are being taught to celebrate getting as many unnecessary things as possible, without any focus on sharing with those less fortunate. I also think it’s sad that so much of the holiday season is wasted on buying the latest gadgets, racking up new debt, traffic jams, crowded malls, overeating, etc. All the while, people are starving, freezing to death and living in alley ways.

On Christmas day, I go see a movie with my family. It’s not something that I can gift wrap, but it’s something that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. The money & time that we save during this season goes a long way to help those who actually have unmet basic needs.
Nea | Self Improvement Saga´s last blog post ..Inspirational Words- The Courage to Live Fearlessly


Peter G. James Sinclair December 20, 2010 at 8:16 pm

I suppose the thing that I can remember which came from my Santa – dad – I always really knew he was the one eating the Christmas cake and the glass of milk – though we played along with the game – and that was the spirit of giving.

So here’s what my Santa taught me – to help others:

He or she who helps others helps himself or herself. Give and it will be given back to you. This is a law and should become a daily part of our lives. As a writer of motivational material, I have found that the more I write to encourage others, the more I am encouraged and the more inspiration I receive to write. So don’t be on the lookout to always get. Be on the hunt to give, and in your giving be generous, for a generous heart will always be full and overflowing.
Peter G. James Sinclair´s last blog post ..Interview With Celestine Chua Of ‘The Personal Excellence Blog’


Betsy December 20, 2010 at 10:42 pm

I am so glad that there are people out there who think like I do. Most of my family think that my husband and I are crazy for thinking this. Really a visit is worth all the presents in the world. If more people would buy less and spend more time with family, the world would be a better place to live in and our wallets would be a little more full, too.


Henway December 22, 2010 at 9:47 pm

These past few years, I’ve been limiting gift giving to associates and business partners rather than friends and family. It seems friends/family are less grateful and dun really care, whereas ppl you work with or do business with are more grateful because they dun expect to receive anything from u.
Henway´s last blog post ..The Holiday Colon Cleanse


Susan December 26, 2012 at 11:18 pm

I totally agree with everything you have said and my family and I are trying to simplify our Christmas traditions and focus on the things that really matter and truly impact our lives in a positive way- family, friends, spending time together, avoiding the shopping frenzy etc. I feel so bad for people who cannot break away from our societies materialistic view of this season. It creates such stress for people; it does not teach our children to empathize with those who are truly in need.


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