Tis’ the season to be jolly, get hammered during unbearable family functions and empty our pockets in the spirit of gift-giving. But is commercialized gift-giving really worth our time?

The mall is an enchanting place this time of year. The lights are up, the music puts a smile on your face and it is at the mall where you’ll find aggressive mothers who will trample to death any poor soul who takes the last iPad off the shelf.

Indeed, the mall is where you can hear the booty-shaking stylings of holiday music siren Mariah Carey while simultaneously maxing out your credit cards. Why would you do such a thing? In order to please your loved ones with over-priced gifts, of course! Electronics, gym equipment, fancy teas, chocolates and clothes all get snapped up by eager-to-please consumers.

But somewhere between Frosty’s magical day in the snow, Jesus’ birth in a manger, every holiday album ever made, the Griswold’s holiday adventures and the influx of sexy Santa lingerie, I think we’ve lost the true meaning of Christmas — or whichever holiday it is that you celebrate.

Spending time with family, friends or those in need has been replaced by the competitiveness that is gift giving. Material-hungry consumers all want the latest gadget, the hottest new pair of jeans or just cold hard cash.

I’ve always had gifts under the Christmas tree­ — yes, Santa still comes to my house — so I’m writing from a position of privilege. But there’s nothing shittier than having some member of your gift-giving circle be unappreciative of what they did or didn’t get every year.

While I don’t want to undervalue gift-giving, I do want to encourage us all to rethink what it means to gives gifts in the first place.

For starters, we usually give our parents and loved ones lists: “I want this, this and this.” The worst is when someone calls or texts to you ask, “What store do you want a gift card to?”

I know a few people who just get cheques of varying amounts for Christmas. Give me a break. Where’s the fun or mystery in that? Put some effort into it, people!

I like sentimental gifts — the gifts that someone purchases or meticulously hand crafts with you specifically in mind. It’s a lot more meaningful than opening up all of your presents simply to accomplish the task of making sure mom and dad bought you everything on your goddamn list.

There’s something exciting about setting a low price cap on a gift exchange with someone, knowing that they will have to get creative in one way or another.

I know there are commercial gifts that everyone wants; it’s an inevitability of the holiday season. But try to think out of the box for at least one gift.

If you’ve got an animal lover on your list, think about purchasing something from the World Wildlife Federation, or make a donation in your loved one’s name. On the surface it seems kind of lame, but it’ll do a lot more good for the world than a new iPod.

Perhaps there’s someone you need to buy for who is passionate about helping those in the third world. Why not provide a family in the developing world with seeds, animals, books or clean drinking water? It’s easy to forget about all the things we take for granted, but remember that someone in a developing country needs these items in order to have a meal at holiday time.

If neither of these options appeal to you, hopefully you’ve at least noted that gift purchasing doesn’t have to be done in a mall.

Christmas lists are nice and all, but that’s not the point of gift-giving. It’s more than that.

Show someone you care in unconventional ways, even if that just means writing a nice card to accompany the sexy Santa lingerie you’ve purchased for them or by buying them a goat in their name from Oxfam. If you’re feeling really ambitious, donating time at the Friendship Inn or providing holiday baking to a local charity might just be the best gift you give this Christmas.

As said in Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of “The Secret of Christmas,” “it’s not the things you do at Christmas time, but the Christmas things you do all year through.”

Let this holiday season reaffirm your faith in humanity and try to spread the love a little differently this year. Throw your list in the trash and enjoy whatever it is you receive.

  • guest

    I agree. I dislike how commercialized this holiday season is. My family chooses to celebrate as a get together with movies, games and food. We still do stockings stuffed with small gifts which is fun and creative. But we don’t put ourselves into debt buying expensive ‘stuff.’

    I wish more families put away their credit cards and spent time enjoying each others company instead.

  • guesty

    Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, giving to those in need along with spending time with family and friends. Those times are significant and will make this time of the year truly enjoyable!

  • Theidentity

    The season is whatever you make of it, I prefer to spend it relaxing the company of family and friends, and I avoid commercials and the mall. Christmas, (in the broader north american cultural context) is currently about commerce, it used to be about a baby, and before that it was a tribute to the god Saturn, and before that it was about a fear that the sun will leave. There have been multiple different takes on it at points in-between those that I mentioned, but anyone who thinks the reason for the season is Christ has had a little too much eucharist wine.