Monday, December 21, 2015

The Gift of No Gift

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone is looking forward to Christmas this Friday for all the right reasons. It's gotten difficult to teach my children that Christmas isn't about providing a list of expensive items that will be purchased for them in exchange for good behavior. The Santa-Industrial Complex is working hard to convince us all that we need to buy stuff for everyone we love this time of year.

The series of comics I'm running right now at Amphibian.com is my attempt to poke fun at this modern tradition. Last week, the Goat of Christmas Past reminded the CEO frog that no matter how good presents might seem, they don't last. Odds are, you don't currently have many (if any at all) gifts you were given as a child that are still valuable to you today. In today's comic, the Goat of Christmas Present shows the frog that too many people are giving gifts that aren't really needed. How many coffee mugs do you really use?

Please don't think I'm some kind of villain worthy of mention in a Dickens story. I don't hate the giving of gifts on Christmas. I am just suggesting that as a society we should take a closer look at our motivations. Why do we go crazy and spend $59 bazillion between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year? Is it because we've all lost the ability to show our love for each other without enlisting the help of Wal-Mart and Target?

There is an aspect of the gift-giving craze that I suspect few people stop to consider. Many people don't feel loved when they are receiving gifts. At least that's what Gary Chapman wrote in his book about the Five Love Languages. While there seems to have been little research done to confirm his theories, I've read it and it does seems to fit extremely well with my experiences. Some people feel love by receiving gifts. But a bunch of other people don't, or at least not as much. So if our goal at Christmas is really to show our love for each other, shouldn't we desire to do that in the way the recipient will most feel love? There's a good chance that won't be a gift.

But if we're really just buying gifts because advertising agencies have fooled us into believing that we need to in order to conform to the Christmas rules, maybe we should stop.

Just something to think about.

Amphibian.com comic for 21 December 2015