I don’t exchange gifts. I give gifts. Blogmas #6.

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The other day I went shopping with a good friend of mine, Donna, who is a bit older than I am, but young at heart. We did some Christmas shopping together and got into a conversation about the “gift exchange.” She explained that she doesn’t “exchange” gifts with people. I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant, so I asked for clarification.

She explained that when she buys a gift for someone it is because she wants to. There doesn’t have to be a reason and she doesn’t expect to get anything back. When I thought about it, I think I’m very similar. I have had people tell me, “Don’t buy me anything this year. I can’t afford to get you a gift,” or “I don’t want to exchange gifts anymore.” I enjoy buying gifts for friends and family. So I ignore those people and continue buying them all gifts. I buy (or make) people I care about gifts because I care about them! And if I want to get you a gift, I will do so.

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Is milk & cookies a comparable gift for what Santa leaves us under the tree?

So why is the “exchange” of gifts such a big deal to people? Why is it necessary for it to be an exchange? I mean, the wise men brought Jesus gifts, but H/he didn’t have stuff for them. He was just a baby for Christ’s sake. Well, I suppose, if you are a believer, (and I’m not saying I’m not, I’m simply acknowledging those of us who are not Christians), then I guess Jesus did die on that cross for us. But in terms of gift giving and the “exchange,” then the gift Jesus gave was worth quite a lot more than gold, frankincense and myrrh. That’s the other thing about the gift “exchange”- people setting limits on the amount to be spent on each other. I’ve never followed that rule either. If I see something that says “you” and it’s above the “set” price limit, I’m buying it for you. Because to me, Christmas is about giving. It’s not about keeping track of who spent more and who gave what. That’s just petty. I give because I look forward to seeing joy on the faces of the people I love when they see the thoughtful thing I found for them. Sometimes it might be something I picked up at the Dollar Store or a Thrift Shop. Other times it could be something I spent my whole paycheque on. WHY DOES PRICE MATTER!!??

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Dollarama my second favorite store. Although I love how they have the $1 in a circle beside the sign when things are priced anywhere for $1 to $4. 

Just the word “exchange” has implications. When I used Google to define the word exchange, here’s what came up: the noun- “an act of giving one thing and receiving another (especially of the same type or value) in return;” and the verb- “give something and receive something of the same kind in return.” So the word “exchange” has some pretty negative connotations when you think about it. It is very much a word related to trade and focuses on the importance of an item’s value. It is a word that says “capitalism” all over it. And I don’t think the increasing consumerism of Christmas can be argued.

So as you do your Christmas shopping this year, I ask you to consider- why are you buying gifts for people? Because you expect something of similar value in return or because you want to show your love and appreciation for the recipient of your gift? If it’s the latter, then the dollar amount should not matter. And it should not matter if the person gives you something in return either. I think it comes down to: WWJD? (What would Jesus do?) Do you think H/he kept track? Do you think if someone was in a financial place that they couldn’t give H/him something of “similar value” in return that H/he would just abandon you?

If Christmas is truly about the spirit of giving, then we should all stop keeping track of who spent what and we should stop setting limits. My friend might give me a $50 gift card for Sephora, for example (OMIGOD, I would so love that BTW!) and I might may make her a Happy Jar. Which gift is worth more?

This Christmas, please don’t “exchange” gifts with your loved one. At least, not until after Christmas and that’s only if it’s the wrong size or you don’t like it and you do it at the store. This Christmas, give gifts to the people you love. Give with your heart and show the true spirit of what the season is all about!

 

 

#BlogmasNOT: Blogmas #4

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So it’s Post 4 of the Blogmas Challenge.  December 4, the fourth day of Blogmas. I’ve been exploring lots of other blogs through the Blogmas twitter hashtags: #blogmas #blogmas2017 #blogmas17. There is so much excitement throughout the Bloggersphere over “Blogmas” which from my limited understanding as a Blogmas virgin is a period of time from Dec 1-Dec 25 when you write a Christmas-related post every day. (If I’m wrong please correct me and know that the rest of this post/rant is based on the assumption that Blogmas entries have to be Christmas related.) A Christmas post each day is fine for those of us who celebrate Christmas, but it’s not very inclusive.

In my short period of time as a blogger (Am I really calling myself a blogger now?), what I’ve noticed about the blogging community as a whole is that people tend to be supportive of one another. So far I’ve been making connections with people from all over the world. But one thing I know for sure: not everyone in the world celebrates Christmas. Could we not also have Blogzaa, Blogukkah, Milad un Blogbi or a Blogivus, for example? Or Holiblogs? Or if changing the name is not an option, could we not at least make Blogmas open for writing about other holiday traditions? All the posts I see are about Christmas decorations or how to make eggnog.

So December 4 post, my 4th Blogmas, is a request to those who celebrate non-Christmas holidays. Notice I say non-Christmas and not non-Christian. I did this for two reasons. Not everyone who celebrates Christmas are Christians. Some do it because they’ve always done it, but they haven’t stepped foot in a church in 20, 30 years, if ever. Some do it because it’s fun. I have heard of some Muslim families here in Canada celebrating Christmas just for the fact of fitting in. It’s not about the birth of Jesus for these families, it’s about the gift-giving. From what I understand, the Islamic faith focuses greatly on passing on your wealth and good fortune to others. Hmmm…. who else did shit like that… Jesus, I just wish I could think of that guy! You know the one… born for the sins of us “all”, died on a cross. Jesus, what is his name again? If anyone can help me out there, it would be wonderful. I mean, Jesus Christ, I feel like I’m losing my mind sometimes.

Anyway, if you don’t celebrate Christmas, do you celebrate another holiday? If so what holiday do you celebrate? What are the traditions? What’s your favorite part? What’s your least favorite part? Why do you celebrate it? What does the holiday represent? If you don’t celebrate a December holiday, what do you do during December? I think this would be interesting particularly if you live in a Christmas dominated region. One of my good friends in Elementary and Junior High was a Jehovah’s Witness so her family didn’t partake in the reindeer games of Christmas. I remember during Christmas concerts, she wasn’t allowed to practice our songs for the Christmas concert. She had to sit in chairs and watch. That’s how we became friends. I noticed her sitting all alone and asked her why she wasn’t practicing with the rest of us. It came to be that I would often try to sneak away from rehearsing to spend time talking with her, because it didn’t seem fair that she wasn’t included and she had to watch us practicing. It was weird going to her house in December and no decorations would be up. All the walls were bare; there were no presents. As a 12 year old, I thought my friend’s life totally sucked. I’m sure it had to be hard to be her, having Christmas crammed down her throat like Grandma’s disgusting Fruit Cake from 2 Christmases ago.

So to reiterate: if you are a blogger who doesn’t not celebrate Christmas, write a piece about what you do instead during the Christmas season. We’ll call it #inclusiveblogmas. I’m also fine with it if you want to use #blogmasNOT or #FuckChristmas or #FuckYouBlogmasForLeavingMeOut.

Please reply to this post with your blog posts and/or comments on December holiday traditions or non-holiday activities that you celebrate. I’m going to ask for posts via Twitter as well.

Be like Jesus, the Grinch and Scrooge this Christmas: A Trip to the Thrift Shop- Blogmas #2

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After my first Blogmas post yesterday, I was racking my brain of what Christmas related thing I would write about today. And as I was showering, which is when many of my greatest thoughts occur, I had an epiphany. Not THE Epiphany. (You’ll have to wait until January 6, 2018 for that.) I was thinking how awful it is for those you who don’t have Lost and Never-Found Basements like me (re: Hoarders: The Secrets that Hide Beneath &  TRASH OR TREASURE in the Lost and Never-Found Basement- Enter my contest today!), where you can dig up old Christmas decorations and give your home that tacky, yet homey, look. My heart was aching for those of you who aren’t as privileged as me to have a basement stuffed with hidden treasures and lots of junk. I thought about those of you who maybe had all your belongings taken away by the Repo people, or maybe your house caught fire, or maybe you were an orphan and you never had any ornaments with history to them.

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This is my ass (Treasure found in Lost & Never-Found Basement.)

So… I got in my car and took my ass down to the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

One of my passions is going to the Thrift Store. For anyone unfamiliar with a Thrift Store, basically it is a place where people take things that they consider junk and then the Thrift Store sells to other people who consider the junk to be treasures. The wonderful thing about the Salvation Army Thrift Store is that most of the money raised goes to help the needy. Jesus was a big supporter of the needy, so shopping at the Thrift Stores makes you a little like Jesus. I say a little because you’re not divine. Well, I’m assuming you’re not. (Sorry, Jesus, if you’re reading this.) The Salvation Army Thrift store I went to is the Lansdowne location in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.

The first awesome thing I noticed was a sign on the door. It is the kind of sign cheapies like me (and Scrooge) LOVE!

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50% off already cheap stuff!!! I peed in my pants just a little!

Then I went around the store to show off just a few of the amazing bargains. You can decorate your whole home for Christmas at the Thrift Shop. And you can get awesome Christmas gifts too! I know you may be thinking, I can’t give second-hand things as gifts for Christmas. Trust me, you couldn’t be MORE wrong. For one thing, whatever gifts you buy for people will probably end up in the Thrift Shop anyway, so why are you wasting all that money on the gifts? Also, there are quality items to be found at the Thrift Shop if you just take the time to look for them.

 

 

 

Just look at the wonderful decorations I found at my local Salvation Army Thrift Shop:

 

Some of these items are older ones; some of them can be bought brand-new in stores today. All of them are cheap! But the savings don’t stop there.

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Socks & gift-bags!
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Christmas mugs- why spend an arm and a leg on holiday mugs? They make great gifts too.
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A Tealight Candle Set in its original box? I smell a Christmas present!

 

Got people who like to cook on your Christmas list? I always find great cookware at the Thrift Shop. I take it home, clean them up (if needed)- and it’s good as new. As long as you wrap these items up in tissue paper and put them in a fancy box, no one will even be the wiser that you actually bought their gift at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. They’ll think instead that you overspent! (And then the item will likely end up back at the Thrift Store anyway as I already pointed out… )

 

These are just a few of the really amazing finds I had a the Thrift Store today in just 10 minutes! I didn’t even cover the clothes, toys, books, and more.

Not only does the Thrift Store save you money, help those in need, but shopping at the Thrift Shop makes you green like the Grinch. These items would end up in a landfill somewhere if they weren’t being dropped off at the store. Your heart will grow 10 times the size just thinking about how much smaller your local landfill is getting due to your Thrift Store shopping efforts. So again, I ask you, why buy something new that’s going to just end up in the Thrift Shop, when you can buy something that was already there? And if it does happen that the person you bought the gift for actually likes the thing, well, WIN, WIN!

So this Christmas, may I suggest you make like Jesus, the Grinch and Scrooge: help those in need, our planet AND save yourself some money? Do your shopping at a Thrift Shop! They’re AWESOME!!!