Skip the presents, go right for the people
How was your Christmas morning? That orgy of American consumerism unparalleled by time or place else. Did you get all the presents you wanted? All the things?
I hope you were with friends and family, people who matter to you. Did you feel their warmth, their love? Could you find it in the stuff exchanged or in the moment shared?
For my family, we’ve slowly moved from the things to the people. From the stuff to the moment. Starting years ago, and slowly germinating over the many Christmases in between, we’ve now dropped the shop for the trip.
I have my Dad’s death to thank for this.
In 2003, my father died on December 16th which pretty much quashed gift giving that year. Who could be merry in the midst of a funeral? But we could connect, with family long missed, friends forgotten, community in the full sense of that word.
In 2004, Mom and I tried to recreate Christmases past. We knew nothing else and we wanted to find a feeling from the past. A Dad present past. And we failed, of course. That Christmas was different, almost sad in our efforts.
In 2005, we gave up on Christmas, didn’t celebrate it much really. We did enjoy shopping, but the day after Christmas, not before. Still, that year felt empty, and emptiness we didn’t want to repeat this year.
In 2006, Mom and I took a different path, one we, Mom, Dad, and I had done often in the past, but not recently. Mom and I decided to have Christmas somewhere different, warm, exotic, on vacation.
This year, we’ve celebrated a Puerto Rican Christmas. No tree, no presents even, just the joys of two weeks on the beach. Two weeks where Christmas seems odd and distant, the always warm Caribbean.
And this year is the best Christmas, the best in many years, by far. No fighting the Christmas shopping hordes. No worries if the present is a surprise or the right size. No need to wrap or return. Just relaxation. Just the beach, the breeze, the joy of Puerto Rican Gold.
This Christmas is a real gift. May your Christmas be one too.