XMas: My Love/Hate Relationship With The Holiday Season

My Love/Hate Relationship With XMas

On the whole, I LOVE the holiday season.

I am 40 years old but still when it comes to this time of year, I get all excited and I won’t sleep a wink the night before Christmas. All through the month of December, I can’t wait until the 25th.

My wife has 3 kids to deal with for a few weeks instead of two…

… but there are a few things I really hate about the holiday season too. So I want to tell you about my love/hate relationship with the holiday season, then I want to ask you a small favor.

Why not share what you love or hate about the holiday season in the comments below? – but please don’t forget that small favor – I’d really appreciate it!

3 Things I Hate About The Holiday Season

So though, as I said, I do love this time of year, there are a few things that I’m starting to notice and that are starting to irk me more and more…

1. The Hype

The first and most obvious thing I hate about the festive season is that it is so over-hyped, from waaaaaay before we’re even into December, retailers and the media start to promote the holiday season. Whether it’s ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Happy Christmas’, Black Friday or Holiday Sales, Christmas music and Christmas jingles starting on the radio in mid autumn…

I find it all a little too much and it ruins what I think the true spirit of the holidays should be about.

2. The Stress

For people who don’t have very much, I believe all of this hype can make the holiday season a very stressful time indeed. All of the over-commercialization, the mass consumerism around this time of year and the constant reminder that we need to be happy and full of the joys of Christmas can put pressure on those who are struggling.

Even for people who are getting by financially, a lot of people over-stretch themselves and spend far too much money on presents, often because they feel that it’s what is expected of them or what they should do or what they should spend rather than what they want to offer. i.e. they are more guided by external influences such as what they did last year, what they always do, what their friends or even strangers tell them, or worse still, what they learn from the media.

Plus, a lot of people are lonely over the holiday season, all of the hype can’t make this situation any easier.

3. The Waste

All of this adds up, unfortunately to a lot of waste at this time of year.

For me, there’s nothing worse than waste, and as someone who is generally very happy with what we have, the last thing I want is to be given an expensive gift that I don’t need or want and then have to pretend ‘oh that’s really nice’. I’d rather receive nothing at all.

That being said, like anyone, I do like to get presents for Christmas. So, when it comes to my presents, the deal I have with my kids is that they can buy me a present but it should be something very cheap – second hand from a thrift/charity shop or something from a 99p shop. You can get some very interesting gifts from a 99p (99 cent) shop!

Otherwise we tend to buy consumables like bath products or luxury food items.

Unfortunately, many people waste far too much money at this time (in my opinion). How many unwanted gifts will be given this year? How many people will buy presents and look at the price tag, saying ‘Do you think we spent enough?’ (that’s the wrong question). How many kids will throw tantrums because they didn’t get everything they wanted, and because they have been taught to expect so much and their values got a little screwed up along the way by parents giving them everything they ask for?

Believe me, if you do spoil everybody at Christmas time/over the holiday season, it will end in tears at some point or other.

3 Things I Love About The Holiday Season

Before you label me Grinch or Scrooge, I’m not. I did say that OVERALL, I love Christmas, and done right, it is just the best time.

Here are the three things I love the most about the holiday season.

1. The Anticipation

The anticipation, the counting down to Christmas day with the advent calendars, the family time and spending time enjoying the build up (i.e. within the month of December) without all of the commercial hype is my first favorite thing.

2. Surprises

As I said, I do love surprises.

Little ones so there is little risk of waste.

In fact, thinking about it, my favorite presents through the years, even as a child have been relatively little things that have had a big impact on me. My childhood hero was Severiano Ballesteros and one year my father bought me a book all about Seve with pictures in it of some of his best moments – that year he got me a twin casssette stereo too (I know, sounds ancient but believe it or not that was the latest technology at the time) which I was very happy with but the present I was most happy with that year was my book about Seve.

These days, more than my own surprises, I love watching my children get surprises. Knowing something that they’re going to love (or even better that you’re pretty sure they’re going to love but just not 100% sure) and then seeing them receive that gift is one of the best moments.

When it comes to buying presents for our kids, we make sure we’re getting things they’ll actually want (even if these are surprises, they’re usually pretty sure bets) and we focus on quality rather than quantity (and we certainly don’t worry about spending the same as others external to our family – we spend an appropriate amount that makes sense to us and our situation).

3. Family & Friends

I love Christmas the way we do it, with a few modest presents, some great food, a roaring fire, some games, some music and perhaps a movie or two.

The main thing in our household is the family and at Christmas time, that means the kids.

Before and after our cottage-style Christmas, we visit friends and relatives.

Is There A Point Here?

If there is a point it is to avoid getting swept up in the hype.

Don’t let the holiday season be a time of pressure. Enjoy the time to reconnect with family and friends and keep things in perspective when it comes to spending and exchange of gifts – it’s about quality, not quantity.

It’s about quality, not quantity.

A Small Favor

For all of those people we can’t see, we send cards and Christmas & New Years wishes.

The latest article on my new site networkingsecrets.net is all about this common practice and how it is a great time to network – to reach out to old friends, to catch up with people, perhaps to mend arguments – you may find the article interesting, it’s a quick read. Check it out here:

Christmas – A Great Excuse To Network!!

The favor is this: at the end of that article I have a few online friends of my own I’d like to thank, and I’d like to introduce you to at least one of them, it would mean a lot to me if you check out that brief article and the small favor at the end.

Happy Christmas & very best wishes for 2014!!



XMas: My Love/Hate Relationship With The Holiday Season — 6 Comments

  1. Yep, I know plenty of parents who spent far too much on their kids, then go around asking other parents and kids what they got – in my view to see if they’ve done the same so they can feel a little better about it.

    People who don’t have too much money in the first place having a ‘lean’ January every year because they habitually overspend at Christmas – and a significant proportion of that spend globally is inevitably on unwanted gifts.


  2. Don’t even get me started on unwanted gifts. My wife has heard me talk about them each year. It’s surprising how many gifts I get each year that either go straight into the donation bin, the back of my closet or the trash can. Honestly, I’m like you in that I’d rather not get anything. For a while, I had a good run with people giving me Target gift cards which I could always use for groceries if anything. It’s useful and I can get something that I actually need or want. But for some reason, it doesn’t work anymore. People have been buying me gifts the past couple of years and I just keep on throwing them away or giving them away. I hate to do it, but I don’t need/want them…at all.

  3. I agree, there has been so much hype and pressure it’s been near unbearable! We only do it for the kids and as it is even without TV in the house they are still brainwashed into the need to have have have! I made a point this year to get my children to give some toys & books away to charity to even it up a bit! We are also trying hard to remind our children of the wonderful opportunity the festive season allows for reuniting with family and friends.
    Next year I think I will eliminate wrapping paper as that has been the greatest waste of all!
    Thanks for sharing Alan, best wishes for a fantastic 2014

    • That’s a nice idea and a good time to make some space.

      As I said in the article, I do love Christmas and think it’s nice to give presents but as long as it is kept in perspective & doesn’t get too much – of course what that is for each of us is entirely relative, but I reckon we can all agree that the media and retail sector is too over-hyped these days.

      Thanks for the comment Raquel & best wishes for 2014!


  4. I agree, Alan 🙂

    I hate it when businesses try to use these seasons – whether it is Christmas or Thanksgiving or something else.

    I understand, as a business owner, the greed/want to maximize the profits by taking advantage of the season. But, like you mentioned, this trend makes the customers focus on buying gifts rather than celebrating the festival with your family.

    Recently, I saw a screenshot with many twitterers complaining about the kids they got (mainly kids…can’t believe what they are saying. Instead of thanking their parents for what they got, they complain and curse because they didn’t exactly get what they wanted – like iPhone instead of iPhone 4S).

    Kids these days, no respect or appreciation for what they have. I really can’t imagine how the world would end up in 50 or 100 years.

    Celebrations such as Christmas should be used to encourage the holiday spirit – spending time with our family, being grateful for what we have and try to help others who are less fortunate (I really don’t understand why people spend so much money on Christmas decorations…we could just use that money to help others, can’t we?).

    Anyways, thank you for sharing this post, Alan 🙂

    • Hey Jeevan,

      Thanks for the comment & I hope you had & are still having a great festive season.

      I just wonder if over-hype and over-consumerism will end up becoming so exaggerated that it will spawn more and more movement against it, so in the end it will still be there but there will also be a clear choice that more and more people are taking to question and avoid it.

      I think more and more people are seeing some of the hype for what it is. At least I hope so.

      In any case, these are very interesting times we’re living in.

      Perhaps there actually is a business opportunity there somewhere for a different kind of charity – to re-circulate some of that money and consumerism sloshing around at this time of year and re-direct it back to those who need it most…

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