Christmas Wants vs Needs

Turkey carcasses are cold, and those thrifty (and insane) ones are out shopping their little fingers to the bone, fighting over Elmo, Cabbage Patch Kids, Wii, or whatever is the “gotta have it” thing this year. Folks stayed up overnight outside of stores, or possibly even in stores that stayed open all night long, and for what? Saving $20 on a $200 item might sound like a great idea, but step back a second.

Does the person the item is intended for actually NEED that item?  My daughters want Ipods. The 9 year old wants an a Itouch, the 13 year old wants an Ipod Mini.  These are girls who have lost two Kindles, 5 phones, and countless other electronics. They also already have portable electronics that are fully functional, and they still use…so why would I overpay (yes, I consider Apple products over-priced) for a product that replaces something that already works? I don’t go out and buy a new car to replace our truck or minivan (that still work just fine), or replace my phone because a newer, fancier one is available.

Why spend money on replacing something that you already have that fills a need?

I can see some of you nodding your heads…and there are others out there getting all hyped up, about to start writing a scathing comment about how I’m a bad father for not catering to my daughters’ wishes…”Buy those things because the WANT them”.

Well, first, these are MY kids, not yours. Do they WANT these things? Yes, I”m sure they do. Will they be happy without them? No, probably not. I’m sure there will be disappointments on Christmas morning if they don’t get them. I realize this. In fact, I even hope for it.

“What the hell?”, you say? Yes, I hope they are disappointed. Our kids’ generation have been given everything they’ve asked for their entire lives. Well, the party is about to be over. We are facing an economic collapse of overspending that cannot be fixed. We’ve voted these things into existence, and now have to pay the piper. The Federal deficit has reached an unfathomable amount. We cannot spend our way out of this, so I’m planning on doing what I can to shore up my family’s position. A little disappointment now might save them a lot of anguish later. Nobody always gets what they want…and let’s face it, the struggle is far better than the end result. If everyone got first place ribbons in a marathon, do you think any real runners would show up? They don’t run for the ribbons, they run for the struggle.

Any prize not earned is not a prize at all.

Every gift I plan on getting this year will either improve someone’s self-reliance, or fill a need I see in their lives.  My 9 year old will be getting a knife, her first. The older daughter already has a Swiss Army Knife that she calls her “Just in case” (I LOVE that!). Other gifts on my lift as acceptable are:

  • a jump box for dead car batteries
  • knife sharpeners
  • Weather Alert Radios
  • multitools
  • knives
  • guns and ammo
  • gardening books and supplies
  • duct tape (yes, my 9 year old actually ASKED for duct tape)
  • cast iron pans

Are these fun? Nope, not to most folks. But the are practical. Christmas needs to become more practical, in my opinion.

(I’m going to slip across the line into religion a bit here, bear with me.)

This brings me to the meaning of Christmas. I was raised Southern Baptist, with a grandfather that was a minister. I was brought up taught that Jesus died on the cross for my sins so that everyone may have eternal salvation, and that Christmas was a celebration of his birth. If you don’t celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, then why are you celebrating at all? Christmas is NOT about buying things for people. Its not about getting IPods, or dolls. Its about celebrating the birth of a Christian’s savior. So why the big hoopla about Black Friday, Rudolph the Red-nosed reindeer, or Tickle Me Elmo?

Money. Something most of us have a lot less of to spend right now. The retail market LOVES this time of year, and NOT because Christ was born. They use the season to play on our minds that we NEED to buy that Ipod for our kids, we MUST do it, even it if means buying it on a credit card. Christmas is no longer a Christian holiday. Its a now become a spending holiday, and part of our country’s problems.

“Oh just buy it, you can’t take it (your money) with you”
“What will their friends think when they don’t have one?”
“I must be a bad parent if I don’t buy them what they want.”


Ever see Harry Potter? Remember his cousin Dudley? Our kids have become a generation of Dudley’s. Well I’m going to do my part to try to reverse this, at least in MY family.


Christmas is not about presents. It was perverted by retailers looking to bolster their end-of-year sales numbers. It was actually quite brilliant, from a business standpoint.

But no longer. Not for me and mine. We will have a tree (also non-christian origins). We will have family over for dinner. And we will be giving and receiving reasonable presents either made or needed. But because we love the people we exchanging with, not because we feel obligated. For years past, we made many of our gifts – jams, jellies, home-made Kahlua, and in 2001, we put together a cookbook that STILL gets raves and requests for copies. Each gift was made by us, with thought and preparation shows the loves we hold for the recipient. A great gift does NOT have to be purchased, now matter what Visa tells you.

So, go out and THINK about each person on your gift giving list. Have they mentioned gardening, but never made the time for it? Are they interested in self reliance? Do they constantly have dull knives yet complain about it? Address needs in their life that they are aware of,  THAT shows you put thought into it. And yes, your mother may get rather pissed off at you for giving her a battery jump box for Christmas, but come July when she gets stranded at the mall, then realizes she has something in her truck from Christmas to get her out of the jam, she might realize just how much you actually cared.

My wife wanted me to add that I’ve always said “you should never force your beliefs on someone else“, and she said what I’ve said here is pretty close to doing just that.  In buying a gift for someone, be sure to address NEEDS that they are aware of….not doing a Homer

And for the record, buying gifts should never be used to buy someone’s love.

Also, what do you buy someone that has everything? Nothing. Just spend some time with them. Time is a gift more precious than gold. Don’t believe me? What would you give to spend just 5 more minutes with that grandparent/parent/child/spouse that passed away? Exactly.

Just sayin’




  1. Dang D, a splash of intensity, a teaspoon if religion, a pinch of politics, a dash of morality, a smidge of economic theory and a heaping tablespoon of parenting? What are you cooking?

  2. Well said. Sometimes you need to put it out there. It makes people think. For years now I have made gifts for my family, extended family and friends. Sometimes food sometimes handcrafted things some functional some decrative but all from me and my family and they have all been done with care and love.

  3. Food, Shelter, Clothing, Employment and Transportation are needs for me right now. Hopefully at some point I can drop the employment and transportation.

    I’m talking strictly survival here.

  4. Our 1 daughter wants the Ipad mini as well, But seeing as she loses her school library books about 1x/day that’s not going to happen until she gets more responsible. We’ve also stated moving to more practical gifts. Last year I made several (felt like a hundred) batches of Cinnamon buns, and gave them out.

    1. The girls next door has lost or broken her Iphone three times in about three months. Her mom just said she wasn’t getting another.

      If kids had to spend 8 hours a day (like we do) earning the money they so frivolously spent for us, maybe they’d appreciate things more….

      Anything un-earned is unappreciated, that’s why things re better when you consider life a journey, not a destination. Getting there is half the fun!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Follow Me