The Holidays are Upon Us

The Holidays are Upon Us
Sorry, this one isn’t non-denominational – it’s about Christmas

by Laura Beaulne-Stuebing, December 20, 2007

As you may know, I’m cheap. I’m a student – I pay for tuition, books, rent and utilities, groceries, and other living expenses. I don’t have much cash to throw around. Most students don’t.

And now the holidays are upon us. It’s time to buy. The malls are crowded, people are aggravated and in a general panic about getting ready for Christmas day, and you’re wondering what, in Santa’s name, you’re going to get for Uncle Bob or Larry or Jim. There isn’t much time left, and you’re starting to feel it.

Well, I’ve been feeling it all month – worried about what to get for my family members when I don’t have a lot of money to spend. I want them to appreciate their gifts – what’s the point in spending $20-$30 on a toolbox, a scented candle set, or a book about indoor gardening, if no one is ever going to use it, smell it, or read it?

I was worried. What to buy?

But out of panic, my thoughts turned in a different direction. I asked myself: what is the point of the holidays? What does Christmas mean to me, and what is important about the season? The whole point is to be with family – it’s a chance to be together and to appreciate the good things in life.

That sentiment is easily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the season. We’re all on the quest for the perfect gift – and we forget that the best gift can’t really be given. The best gift just happens – when you and your family are decorating the Christmas tree together, tucking in for a holiday feast, exchanging gifts wrapped in homemade paper or newsprint, or just sitting in front of the TV watching one of the CBC’s Christmas specials. These are the moments that make for holiday memories.

We’re wasting our time at the mall. Time that could be better spent with friends and family.

“But Laura,” you might be thinking, “I still have to get my family presents! Where else am I supposed to do that but at the mall? Where else can I buy them things?” Well, let me ask you this: do you really have to buy anything?

“Yes,” you say. And “no,” I reply.

I don’t want to waste my time at the mall, or spend any more energy in crowded stores, than I have to this season. I don’t want to dip into my savings to buy my family gifts – I simply want to show them that I love them. So this year, instead of going crazy over what to buy, I’m going crazy over what to make.

My gifts are all (or at least, mostly) homemade and handmade. My gifts are vegan treats – cookies, fudge, and chocolates that I’ve made myself. If you follow Vegan University, you’ll know that along with being cheap, I’m also just an amateur – just learning – in the kitchen. Fortunately, so far, my homemade goodies have turned out well – and I know they’ll be greatly appreciated. Who doesn’t love a vegan peppermint patty in the shape of Santa Claus? Who wouldn’t appreciate homemade gingerbread cookies? Who wouldn’t be thankful for treats made with a lot of sugar and a lot of love?

Being so close to the big day, it might be too late for you to make your own gifts. You might have already spent 6 hours at the mall, dashing through each store to find the perfect gift. Or, you might be putting it all off – waiting until Christmas Eve to dash through each store for the best gift you can find at 10 pm.

But we really don’t need to waste our time or our dollars. We need to remember what the holiday season is about – it isn’t about Santa and his elves and reindeer, it isn’t about spending money, and it certainly isn’t about standing at a store’s checkout for 20 minutes while “The Little Drummer Boy” annoyingly plays over the PA system.

The holiday season is about family and friends. It’s about making “cheap” Christmas memories.

Laura is a university student in London, Ontario.

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