This year when I was making my Christmas list, the best I could come up with was a book, some dish cloths, and a pad of watercolor paper.
It is not that I didn’t try, but for the life of me, I could not come up with another item that could improve my happiness by any measure.
For most college students, Christmas is an opportunity to encourage our parents to buy for us that for which we are unable or unwilling to spend our own money, rather than being filled with toys and games as it was in our childhood.
In this way, hopefully our Christmas lists are more representative of those things we need, as we are at this point in our lives in which it is important to understand the true distinction between what is necessary and what is desired.
If you are religious, Christmas is a time of communal celebration. If you are not religious, it is a time of thanksgiving, as well as looking forward towards the New Year.
The centrality of gift giving is an opportunity for expressing love and gratitude towards one’s friends and family. However, illustrated by the prominence of Black Friday and Christmas sales, the material side of gift giving seems to dominate, weakening the true value of the holiday and confusing its purpose.
Since my brother and I have been in high school, my family has worked each year to simplify Christmas. Our reasons have less to do with the holiday itself than with shaping the lifestyle we desire.
One of the fundamental aspects of this is understanding the distinction between wants and needs, which has become surprisingly confused in today’s world.
For example, we are much more inclined to desire a new iPad than to apply the slogan, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” to the school supplies we already have.
If we honestly look closely at those things we need for our happiness, we find them to be surprisingly few. We can make do quite easily with what we already have. As we prepare ourselves to step outside the protected bubble of college life, we will have to learn how to be content without the newest gadgets and clothes.
But this is not a sad fact, in truth, it is a point of celebration.
By letting go of those long Christmas lists, there is an opportunity to celebrate the joy and gratitude that is the purpose of the holiday.