Friday, November 24, 2017

Hundred Dollar Holiday

Amid all the gift lists circulating online at this time of year, I’d like to also mention the ideas in Hundred Dollar Holiday by Bill McKibben.

That “hundred dollars” is not an absolute; if you buy into McKibben’s approach you may want to choose a different number. As McKibben says, “The goal ... is not to spend as little money as possible ... it’s to have as much fun as possible.”

As he explains:
Trimming the tree, eating the turkey, opening the stockings, singing the carols: if these things bring you joy, and for most people they do, then they are parts of Christmas you want to focus on. And you can focus on them more easily, as well as incorporate all sorts of new and borrowed rituals, once you’ve put aside the burden of buying carloads of presents.

Now, this is all assuming a family that is reasonably well off, financially. For those whose financial situation is more precarious, gifts of clothing, towels, toys and such may be very welcome. If your finances allow, you may get some joy (as I do) from participating in an “adopt a family” program where you shop for items on someone else’s wish list. There are programs along these lines throughout the U.S. — and beyond.

But for many of us, McKibben writes, “We have so much stuff that a pile of presents is no longer exciting.” And in those cases, we might choose to rethink our gift-giving approaches. As McKibben says:
The point is not to stop giving; the point is to give things that matter. Give things that are rare — time, attention, memory, whimsy.