Celebrating the Holidays, Old-School Style

xmastree_As Charlie Brown lamented so many years ago, I also wish for a time when the holidays weren’t represented as being crass and overly commercial. I’m not going to say I didn’t open more than my fair share of gifts when I was younger, ’cause you know I did.

But there is a craziness that surrounds the holidays now that didn’t seem to be there when I was a kid. Yes, our family tree had plenty of presents around it. I remember getting the toys I wanted as a boy, and the record albums on my list when I was a teen (“Frampton Comes Alive!“), but it didn’t seem gifts were all that expensive back then.

Nowadays your toys – electronics and gaming systems – can run into several hundred dollars a shot. For one gift. Talk about your financial pressure.

For those of you that would like Christmas suggestions that tend to lean old-school (what, no Lexus or Mercedes tied up with a big red bow?), I offer up the following:

Make the Holiday a No Shopping Zone – Although Black Friday isn’t something I participate in anyway, is it really necessary for those who do to push it up into Thanksgiving? I know it’s old-school thinking, but no one needs to shop on a holiday. Let the retail workers have time with their families. And give the tryptophan pumped bodies of potential shoppers a little more time to recuperate from that second piece of pecan pie.

Don’t Break the Bank – Americans plan to spend an average of $846.00 this year for Christmas gifts, up 14% from the previous year (credit: Experian). I know, I know…what bad economy? For all of the hyperbole of our country sliding into the shitter, our citizens seem to be taking a lot of trips to Wal Mart. I’m hoping to spend less than the average this year myself. I’m thinking most of that $854 per household is getting spent with a sliding credit card. Not good.

Celebrate with Cash – Don’t want to run that insane gauntlet of gift purchases, whether on-line or brick and mortar? Don’t bother. Do what my grandmother did, and give out bank envelopes with cash!

  • Everybody loves cash
  • You save the time you would have spent shopping (win!!)
  • You may save money as well. You know you would have spent more on a gift – slip your loved ones a nice crisp $20 bill instead.

Make Meals a Holiday Centerpiece – This is one aspect of holiday celebrating that isn’t too difficult to pull off. Everybody loves the holiday meal! The Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing are ubiquitous, but Christmas is also a great opportunity to pack on major calories as well! From the Christmas ham with all the trimmings – and by trimmings, I mean trays lined with manicotti and lasagna – to our old fashioned Christmas Eve fishes, the main holiday attraction for many of us remains the food.

Leave the Stress Behind – Holiday stress factors cited in recent research are lack of time (up to 69%), lack of money (up to 69%), and pressure to give or get gifts (up to 51%). Sounds to me like some folks could use reacquainting with the original idea of Christmas – the birth of Christ, remember? – and forget about the materialism for awhile and approach from a different perspective.

On December 26th, all that anxiety about gift giving seems a little silly, doesn’t it?

  • Hug a friend or loved one
  • Listen to Christmas music
  • Decorate the tree together
  • Say a prayer for the troops
  • Go to church
  • And by all means, say “Merry Christmas”!

Look at the title at the top, and take out the key word: Celebrate. You only have so many opportunities to do so.

8 thoughts on “Celebrating the Holidays, Old-School Style

  1. Hi Joe,

    Loved your suggestions here and agree. It reminded me of when I convinced my folks to get me
    George Carlin’s AM/FM album on vinyl. A lot of good memories there.

  2. Hey Joe,

    It’s funny you mentioned Frampton ’cause when I was a kid it was Kiss Alive II ๐Ÿ˜‰ Ha ha, talk about way back.

    Agree with you on Black Friday and then the insanity of starting to shop at midnight in some places. WTH? Crazy!

    About the meal. This year I bucked tradition and made my famous crab cakes instead of turkey. We get plenty of great Dungeness up here. Everybody loved the idea and nobody passed out after dinner, from crab cakes at least ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Loved the post and couldn’t agree more.

    1. Hi Craig,
      Alive II, if I remember correctly, may have been a Christmas gift to me the following year I ripped open the FCA album. Records were all I wanted back then. The first Alive! was my indoctrination to hard rock in the 70s. Got the whole ball rolling. I still love to listen to Kiss.

      But ’76 was a good one. Besides Frampton, I think my gifts included the first Boston LP and Hotel California. Talk about getting it all. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Love the crab cake idea! That’s one of my fave meals. My friend Mike that I wrote about earlier this year never had turkey for Thanksgiving. His family always had steak. None of them liked turkey. I guess everyone has their own holiday meal tradition.

      1. Oh yeah, forgot about Boston. Amazing how things have changes regarding music. Now I just stream everything on Pandora for free ๐Ÿ™‚ But yes, I loved getting albums too. The artwork and details you got were a bonus.

        I like Mike and would much rather have seafood than turkey … any day!

      2. I know, Pandora is a fantastic thing, isn’t it? Love creating stations with it, wish we had that when we were younger!

  3. I always find that so true. If my grandmother gave me a 20 dollar bill, i would be like “wow, thanks, that a good amount of money!” but when she would buy a present it probably cost her about 10 dollars more,and though I appreciated it and told her I loved it,it usually didn’t have the wow factor that 20 dollars had. I donno maybe im just a little money-grubber though lol

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