Ever get fed up when the day after Halloween you begin seeing holiday decorations displayed at retailers? Or Xmas themed TV commercials being aired (Macy's Department Store did this in mid-October one year)? Even holiday music blaring on the radio?
I do. I think to myself, it's November 1st? Must the bombardment into submission begin already?
Having spent a few holidays abroad, I can tell you with some sense of confidence that this is a uniquely American and recent "tradition". One I hope the rest of the world does not replicated.
In fact, it is not your imagination, it is indeed getting worse every year. As the 4th quarter and the Holiday season becomes more and more important to retailers, expect to see more and more stores like Wal-Mart did this year, opening up on Thanksgiving. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, it's all just going to get worse, until consumers push back and it gets better.
I've always loved Christmas and the good will and traditions and family time. I've spent a couple of Decembers in South America. As far as I know, there is not a single gift exchanged and if there is, it's so low key that you don't notice any throngs ever frantically shopping for gifts.
What you will see is lots festivities filled with incredible lights, food, drinking, dancing and a general feeling of cheerfulness and happiness....the entire month of December and even into the first of January. But not a moment before.
None of that "the holidays can be so stressful" stuff in South America.
I've decided that my gift giving will now be relegated only to family and that my family would receive charitable gifts given to someone in need in a developing country in their name.
I tried it a couple of years ago and it was a huge hit. My mother loved the brood of chickens I gave her (or more specifically to the family in Haiti, in her name) and I'm going to keep doing it.
If you'd like to give it a try, do it, see what you think. I predict you'll be back for even more next holiday season. It's truly fulfilling.
Here are a just few suggestions:
- Save The Children
- Heifer Project International