The commercialization of traditional religious festivals has almost become so thorough and complete that even old timers have stopped complaining about Christmas having virtually lost its religious significance.
Christmas season is now synonymous with unbridled spending. Presenting near and dear ones with Christmas gifts is a major preoccupation for all. Companies start planning about innovative corporate gifts. Those who do not want to go with the masses think of personalized Christmas gift ideas for their closest ones. Have-nots start browsing the Internet for cheap Christmas gift ideas.
Joy of Giving and Receiving
There is no doubt that every one loves to receive gifts; giving gives joy as good as or sometimes even better than receiving. Children would love to have even more than one Christmas a year, if only there is such a prospect! Every grown up will definitely have a joyful memory of the unobtrusive arrival of Santa Claus with a bundle of gifts during his/ her childhood.
Surprise Element in Christmas Gifts
But as grown ups, how many people think and analyze how human mind actually works once the gift packet is unwrapped and the contents bared? If one happens to know already what is in store or if the giver has already discussed with the receiver as to what he/she would love to have and gifts precisely that, it is a different matter. But when the surprise element is very much there, what exactly is one’s very first reaction deep inside the heart at the sight of the content in the package?
A Mild to Moderate Disappointment or Even Exasperation at the Site of Christmas Gift?
Three out of four occasions, the receiver’s reaction is a mute “Oh, No!” or “Oh! Not again!”. But Christmas is not an occasion for frank expression of disappointment. It is an occasion for expression of joy, thankfulness to God for all the goodness of life and thankfulness to the near and dear ones for all their care and love. So, everyone will be at his/her diplomatic best to shriek a well cultivated expression of joy: ”Oh! How nice! How thoughtful you are! Thank you so…..much!”
The Tale of Unwanted Christmas Gifts
But what is the reality? Here are some facts to ponder:
According to a news report by Darren Osborn [dated 26th December 2007] in News.com, a Galaxy survey commissioned by Ebay (online auction site) has found that in Australia, two thirds of people reportedly receive at least one unwanted Christmas gift. The survey estimates $985 million was spent on unwanted Christmas gifts last year in Australia.
According to a report by Emma Tyrrell, in England a survey conducted by Post Office (which was promoting its gift vouchers as an alternative gift idea) found that 15 million presents worth over £400 million would disappear into oblivion, with no use for the receivers! It is reportedly found in the survey that just over half of these gifts will be donated to charity shops. Another 30 per cent will be stored away somewhere to gather dust and never be used, while 17 per cent will actually be repackaged and given to someone else. Two per cent will simply be thrown away.
With options to buy and sell items using Internet sitting comfortably at home, the trend to make “something out of the useless Christmas gifts” is catching up heavily. Websites such as eBay are doing a brisk trade in rejected gifts and according to the site, close to a million items gets listed every day immediately after Christmas! Many items are offered at throw away prices or items get listed for auctions offering excellent bargains in price!
How to come out of this vicious circle?
At least in the current, economically troubled times, when money flow is choked and recession is looming large across the globe, a re-look at the whole issue of Christmas gifts is very much in order.
There are indications already that in American households, as a consequence of credit crisis and recession, a large cut in Christmas spending is happening this year.
The need of the hour is not just the indispensable and inevitable cuts in Christmas spending, but a different outlook on the issue of large scale wastage involved in the Christmas Gifts.
Suggestions to Reduce Wastage in Unwanted Christmas Gifts:
- To the extent possible, replace the physical gifts by cash, gift vouchers and gift coupons. Let the receiver buy what he/she really needs or wants.
- Discuss with children and try to convince them about the basic need of thrift at the current economic scenario; cajole them to accept cash gifts or gift vouchers and encourage them to accumulate and save the amount for buying something “bigger and better” in the near future.
- If children are not amenable to the above suggestion, tell them clearly about limits in the budget and offer to buy them as gift what they would love to have, but strictly within the budget.
- Encourage close friends and relatives not to gift your children with any goods; suggest them to give the present in the form of cash, to be dropped in the children’s piggy bank.
- As grown up fathers, mothers, father/mother-in-laws and grand parents, inform all near and dear ones well before Christmas that you have decided not to receive any gifts. If a stiff opposition is faced, then willingness to accept cash or gift vouchers can be given.
- Better still, donations in cash or check in lieu of gifts can be collected in the name of your favorite charity organization and the collected amount can be passed on to them immediately after Christmas.
Many people are content to fit to stereo types and find it convenient always to float with the tide. But a radical shift in thinking can really make them more worthy citizens who contribute to the society in a small way, by avoiding wastage and unwanted extravaganza in Christmas gifts.