Pick a random TV channel nearly any day and you will likely encounter ads for the following items that will make an ideal Christmas gift:
- This year's must have toy, which probably requires absolutely no creativity from the user. Both parents and extended family are sure to be convinced that their own infant/toddler must have this gizmo. The kid could probably care less, but the advertisers are not marketing to the kiddies.
- The newest and greatest gourmet kitchen device which likely relates to brewing something or is designed to cook an item you eat once a year at a restaurant that prepares it more easily and admittedly better.
- A lovely jewelry item that will win her heart. She doesn't care that it's expensive or gaudy, only that you thought enough of her to go to all that bother. Jewelry is one of those purchases that sound nice and photographs well, but let's face it, other than a wedding ring and maybe one nice pair of earrings, most women will scarcely wear something with enough "bling" to get her robbed on the street.
It's really OK if you don't buy a gift for everyone, like people in the office or guys in the car pool. People inevitably feel compelled to purchase and wrap a gift for someone they might not even like just because is the thing to do. Especially in this economy, most people don't have extra funds for splurging. If a situation seems to require a gesture, why not make a charitable donation in that person's name? The local food bank or hospital charity would appreciate the funds. There are countless agencies who would appreciate a donation -- senior centers, children's homes, and veterans' facilities to name a few.
Want to do something but can't spare the funds? How about helping out as a volunteer? There is probably some nearby organization which would appreciate an extra set of holiday hands to wrap gifts or help serve meals. You could really make a difference and will probably walk away from the experience enriched yourself.
Christmas used to mean more than ca-ching. It meant being with family, reflection on happier times behind and hopefully ahead, creating memories to help us through times such as these. It also meant recognizing the good in each other, a trait that seems elusive in today's world.
Let's all try to face the coming holiday season calmly. It's really OK.