Monday, November 23, 2009

A Festivus for the Rest of Us

I have to confess I am a HUGE Seinfeld fan. That show about nothing? Count me in.

I think one of the funniest episodes deals with Frank Costanza's made up holiday "Festivus." The holiday causes Kramer to lose his job, Jerry to break up with his girlfriend, Elaine to confront the men at the other end of her made up number, and all kinds of mayhem for George, Frank's son.

I think what I love the most about this episode though, is that it addresses what is fundamentally flawed with this time of year. Christmas is a holiday to celebrate Christ's birth. It is not an occasion to give presents first and foremost. Far too many in our world are caught up with material things year-round so why should Christmas be different.

Today, my husband asked his mother for her "Christmas list" and I cringed. Since I have only been back to work since August and he has been out of work nearly a year, I had planned on possibly pictures of our kids as presents. Something we could afford that we know she would want. After my husband asked, I heard my mother-in-law start to rattle off a list of about ten items. My heart sank. A couple of things would be big ticket for us and the others weren't to be found in the dollar store either. My husband could see the look on my face and said, "why don't you narrow that down to one or two and mail it to us." When he got off the phone I sat in silence and pretended to read the paper. My mother-in-law has unfortunately failed to grasp what unemployment means in these times. "We'll find a way to work it out," he said, "we always do."

My mother-in-law is not the only member of my husband's family who still has a Christmas list as an adult, neither is she the only adult I know period who does this. Each year we try to tell my husband's family that the two of us neither want nor need anything and to please spend that money on our kids. With the exception of his younger brother who has a child as well, they all ignore us and a couple downright badger us for items. While I will say, there is a certain spirit involved in gift giving, isn't it supposed to be about the people around the Christmas tree not the presents under it? And call me Scrooge-mommy, but is it wrong to try and encourage my children to understand the real meaning of Christmas not see it as a time to hand out a wishlist?

All of the materialism and secularism surrounding Christmas leaves me wanting...wanting a festivus for the rest of us.

1 comment:

DecaturHeel said...

I totally sympathize with you, and I love the non-materialistic aspect of Festivus. But like all things these days, it's being commercialized (frankly, in some funny ways). Like Festivus cards, for example.