Why is Christmas different in 2009?

Though we grew up listening to “Gifts don’t matter; it’s the feelings that matters” but most of us discard it as an overused cliche and indulge in mindless shopping spree during Christmas.  We want our gifts to be the best and in the frenzy credit and debt are overlooked. A nonprofit group reports that during the 2005 holiday season, Americans spent a total of $438.6 billion and in 2004, nearly 60% of American consumers incurred credit card debt while gift buying for Christmas. (http://www.thinkchristian.net/index.php/2006/12/03/taking-the-consumerism-out-of-christmas/).

According to telephone interviews conducted by American Research Group, Inc. with a random sample of 1,100 adults nationwide on November 10 through 13, 2008, the average planned spending for 2008 was $431. But what would be the spending figure in 2009? We are in the midst of one of the worst recessions since the early 1980s and highest unemployment, yet there are a few plastic – obsessed consumers who will spend the same way on this Christmas as they always do.

Over the years, Christmas has become entwined with shopping but if there was a time to re-evaluate the association of Christmas and gift giving then this is the time. High cost of living and unemployment have put a huge burden on many families. As the holiday season approaches, the families are showing signs of financial anxiety. It has been noticed that individuals or families going through financial problems would still spend recklessly and mindlessly at Christmas, to keep the allusion alive that their financial life is going great. They would shop, party, gift expensive presents to their relatives, friend, neighbors and colleagues to hide their money problems. It’s quite normal for an individual or a family to hide their money problems from their acquaintances but the problem gets aggravated when they can’t come to terms with the reality and accept that they are struggling financially. It is often the defiance to admit the problem and a person’s pride that fans the flames.

Why don’t you look at the matter like this: One of your friends is suffering from monetary problems and you are aware of his financial condition. Would you still expect a lavish and expensive Christmas gift from him? The answer would be a “No”, right? Why don’t you expect your friends, colleagues and family members to be just as supportive and understanding? Or is your pride stopping you from admitting that you are not being affected by the current economy and everything is hunky- dory in your already messy financial life?

We are living in a difficult time but we are not alone. The whole economy is suffering. Your colleagues, friends, your neighbors, in fact everyone around you is under some kind of pressure from the current economic conditions. Under such circumstances it is obvious that they would not expect you to shower them with expensive gifts. Do not forget that costly presents carry an obligation; the recipient feels that he has to reciprocate by gifting an equally expensive or more costly present. So, the next time you’re sending a thousand dollar exclusive chocolate box to your friend think about the obligation you are imposing on him?

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