December is the bomb. Really, it’s the best month ever. If it could be Christmas time all year round that would rock. There's something weirdly magical about this time of year. Maybe it’s the sea of string lights drenching the city, extravagantly lit trees in everyone’s window, or the copious amounts of cheesy Hallmark movies on TV. I don’t care what it is….I LOVE IT. However, today I had a really unpleasant experience while shopping for my families’ gifts and I wanted to share my thoughts.
1.Obligatory Gift Giving is Stupid
Someone had to say it. I HATE obligatory gift giving occasions. Some marketing genius decided that every holiday be turned into a retail frenzy, Christmas being the biggest one of all. Every childhood memory of Christmas I have does NOT revolve around the gifts I received. I remember sipping hot chocolates with my Dad, cruising around neighborhoods “ooo-ing” and “ahhh-ing” over lights with holiday classics playing in the background. I remember untangling mountains of beads to wrap around the tree, counting down the days till December 25th on my advent calendar and passing the candlelight at Christmas Eve service. But most of all I remember having my whole family together, eating, smiling, celebrating all of us being in each other’s lives. Around this time of year, I feel a deep appreciation for my family and the people that love me the most. Sure I WANT to get them something, but I truly believe the best present of all is YOUR PRESENCE.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about what happened to me today while Christmas shopping that REALLY really upset me.
I don’t go to department stores anymore. I just don’t. I haven’t been in months and don’t really plan to. Being a student, blogger, podcaster entrepreneur AND having an actual job I’ve learned to live below my means a tiny bit. I don’t spend money on $100 yoga pants or go get my nails done every week like I used to. Heck, I don’t even wear makeup or let alone do my hair that often! And I’ve really come to accept that. So when I walked up into Nordstrom’s today, I freaking lost it.
Why? Consumerism and GUILT based marketing…that’s why.
2.Companies Instill Fear to get YOU to Buy
As soon as I stepped into Nordstrom’s I got an instant feeling of inadequacy. I was wearing 4-year-old yoga pants, an oversized outdated shirt and SKETCHERS. Normally I wouldn’t give af about this, but I felt out of place here. I was bombarded with clothing, jewelry and shoes I’ve never seen before. Instantly, I felt like I was “missing out” on life because mine didn’t include a $200 Movato watch. And that’s just the vulnerability companies want you to experience. There’s a reason they spray beautiful perfumes, display the best clothes, play trendy music and shower you with sensory over load. Stores want you dreaming of a picture-esc fairly tale life, feeling like shit because you don’t have it, and then spending money on items you cant afford to supposedly “up” your social status.
I have news for you, social status doesn’t exist if you don’t let it. I’m not poor, but I FELT poor being in that store. I feel beautiful on most days, but FELT like the ugly duckling there.
So if THIS is what Christmas is about then I want no part. Christmas is about the memories, the time, the companionship. Not the wish lists, Kendra Scott earrings, IPhone 7s and Lulu Lemons. We ARE adequate with out personal possessions. What makes us adequate is our personal perception, and the relationships we hold with those that add to that personal perception.
That being said, I still bought my family gifts. But I did it because I LOVE them, not because I have to. From now on, I vow to only give gifts that are meaningful, personal and show how much those people mean to me. Not just because it was an obligation. I freaking love Christmas and always will. I just wish manipulation and marketing were not involved with such a heartfelt time.
Happy holidays friends. Enjoy your family time and tell someone you love them. Now go watch a Hallmark movie!!