The Hustle & Bustle Time Of Year

This is the hustle and bustle time of year. Holiday time. When people are trying to find gifts for all their loved ones.

Mostly I stay out of stores until after the first of the year.

I remember what it was like to watch people pick up one thing, turn their head and think a moment, and put it back. All to find the right thing for the person they were shopping for.

And with so many to buy for, it becomes a task to get it all out of the way.

It occurred to me a long time ago that really, what was it all for? I mean, I understand wanting to give gifts at Christmas. But it seems to me to be shopping overload. I’d rather give when it’s a total surprise.

It seems to me that Christmas in the US is a wayward nod to the vast and never ending commercialism in this country. And in my opinion it all got out of hand a long time ago. 

Children get dozens of gifts and are so pumped up they don’t even have time to look at one before they’re unwrapping another. 

My way has been to take kids to a bookstore and let them choose a few books. 

Yes, I’d be considered the “no fun” grandma to many. But it is really important to me to foster the love of reading.

At 6-7 my grandson would choose books on past presidents. It amazed me but I was happy to accommodate him with books on history of any variety. 

I love to see children’s eyes get wide with excitement at the mere idea of so many books. And behind their covers, stories for them to enjoy. The way I always felt as a child when I’d enter our small town library.

I know most children want the latest electronic this and that at holiday time. A new smart phone, for instance. (Why do children in grade school need a smart phone?) 

I know I’m probably in the minority. But I find it all sad and unfortunate.

I want to look at the sky, watch a group of birds flying in almost precise formation.

I don’t want to be staring down at some gadget, always being “electronically engaged” while ignoring every single thing around me. 

I am on the computer a lot at home. When I go out I forget all that and prefer to enjoy the moment. 

People are missing so much. But they’ll never know it if they don’t pause and look up. 

And the good thing about that would be that then maybe they’d see me instead of running straight into me and nearly knocking me down.  

Wouldn’t that be nice?


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  1. I agree… Even the supermarket becomes a nightmare at this time of year for me. Somehow I'm lucky December is always the busiest month at work for me: no time for shopping 😉

  2. I agree, Brenda. My kids do get gifts for Christmas, but much simpler than most families. We have very few toys in our home that require batteries and my kids have great imaginations (and many books!) and lots of creative supplies. I don't even own a smart phone, so hard for me to relate to children walking around staring into an electronic device! Makes me sad.

  3. Hi Brenda, I agree with you and braving the shopping this time of year. I make sure I am done before Thanksgiving and then no running around for me. Just want to enjoy the season without all the rushing. I have a smart phone but I only use it out if necessary for my shop etc. Otherwise it stays in my purse. I never walk and talk or use it while dining with friends or family. It's just rude. You are right about missing out on the meaningful when we are too into all the stuff.

    Have a great evening.

  4. Christmas, Thanksgiving and almost all holidays have just turned into days to shop! I was discussing a book I was reading with my daughter the other day and I was explaining how back in the day the government encouraged people to conserve what they had – the whole make do and mend mentality – now it's totally opposite and the government encourages people to throw the old out and buy new. I prefer the old way.

    We all are readers, although I still prefer a real book to my Kindle whereas my daughter prefers her Kindle to real books! We always give books to each other for Christmas (and movies).

  5. I agree Christmas has lost it's original meaning. I do most of my shopping online and very early. I am usually done before Thanksgiving. In my family we only give to the children and adults do not exchange gifts. I really miss the holidays of my childhood. There were so much more simple, yet even more meaningful. You are wise to avoid the stores, especially with your ankle.

  6. I'm being very low key with shopping this year…it's one thing to give from your heart but you have to use your head, too, and know when too much is too much. If I had young children in these times, I would watch them like a hawk with their gadgets, There are ways to put timers on your computers, etc. We will never get rid of the commercialism but we can control how we let it creep into our lives. I'm setting new standards for myself so it was wonderful to come here and know that yeah, I can look up at the sky or out my window, see the squirrels and birds skittering about and feel a lot of joy in my heart!

    Have a good week!

    Jane xx

  7. We are a family of readers and explorers. This year the grand girls are getting cozy blanket throws to curl up in and read. Nothing electronic. Youngest grandson got a snow leopard throw for his birthday last month. He loves it. Haven't finished Christmas for the boys yet. I am the book and lets explore g'ma. They seem to like it. I'm planning a Spring break adventure in a historic district, staying in an antique cottage. Even though they've visited there many times, they will love it!:-) We've never been big spenders at Christmas. It's all about the good times together for us. Annual Christmas PJ party coming up, Christmas Eve.

  8. When my son married, he and his wife asked us what we wanted for Christmas. I told him I would be honored if he adopted an angel off the church's angel tree. It is a win-win for all. Now that I have grandchildren, I am all about giving them experiences instead of things. I am sure when they get older I will be the weird Grammie but I don't care.

  9. I think things started to get way out of hand was when it became the norm for both parents to work full time. I know sometimes parent over indulge due to feeling guilty. I find often the people who spend the most are people that can afford it the least.

  10. I know a family that have gotten their kids their very own tvs, computers, iPods, then smart phones and I don't know what all. I'm wondering what they will get them when they run out of electronics to buy or do they start over with newer models? I think books are fabulous gifts…for children and adults both. Or a gift card to a store like Barnes and Noble.

  11. My sister and I were talking about this very thing today. I made the comment that when adults and children have everything they want, it makes Christmas shopping challenging, and feels like a waste of time and money. One of these years I will revolt and leave town for the whole month of December. They'll have to do it without me.

  12. Last week we received our grandsons' Christmas wish list. The older one (11) had some sports related clothing listed as well as an electronic device called a Nvidia Shield which sells for $200. I told my husband there's no way we're getting him that, although he wanted to. The last thing he needs is yet another electronic device, and although he probably will receive it, it won't come from us. It's all way too much. The younger one asked for a tv for his room, and we got him that, although I'm against having tv's in bedrooms for children as well. I'm picking my battles.

    Books are a fabulous gift for children. I'm glad our daughter grew up just shy of all this (she's 28).

  13. I totally agree. Such a thought-provoking post. When my children were small, they really weren't into the electronic games and computers and smart phones were not yet out. They loved playing war with the neighborhood kids and riding bikes and yes, reading. My daughter would sit for hours and read and never bother anyone. My son would line up his cars down the hall and play race. They loved to fish at granddaddy's house and feed the ducks. I am so happy they grew up during a more simple time. My son and his family live in a large cookie cutter home with houses 12 ft apart and no back yard. I've given my grandson riding toys and he has no place to ride them. Sad. You are so right. God help us. I'm already getting little cars for my grandson to roll down the hall, books in a basket to read and babies for my girls to play mommy. Did you know that my grandson does not even know the story of The Three Little Pigs or Mother Goose rhymes. I am looking for the Mother Goose book for my soon to be granddaughter because her mommy loved them. Sorry so long, but yes, I can relate and vent.

  14. Yes I agree Brenda, the commercialism in this country has gotten out of hand. The true meaning of Christmas is lost in all the pushing, grabbing and debt that is racked up. Christmas seemed much more special to me as a child when I got a new doll and a pair of pajamas each year. All this electronic 'crap' has ruined out children. A while back I had a part time job as a crossing guard for a junior high school. One day while on duty a young man would have walked straight into a street full of racing cars had I not thrown my arm up to stop him. He was so engaged with looking down at his phone that he had no idea what was going on around him.

  15. BOOKS! YES! 🙂 Our local library is only blocks away and the grands love when I borrow books from there. AS to books that are always here, they like nothing better than to cuddle up and have me read one or read one themselves, or read one with help, depending on their age.

  16. I told you last week what the daughter and I decided was our gift to each other,, which was to pool the money and give it to the food bank.. it isnt just kids, its all of us, who buy and buy stuff throughout the year. I often wonder if we are able to distinguish out wants from our needs any longer. I hear folks speak of their MUST HAVES, or what they Deserve or are entitled to and most of those things are NOT needs.
    Perhaps we should all take a good hard look at our own spending as its a known fact kids leaarn far more by what they SEE than what they are told.

  17. The only place daughter and I are going this year is Joann's and our favorite knit shop to buy yarn. She's into making hats now, and I'm knitting trees! Looks like a knitting factory here! The rest will be gift cards. No malls for us. I'm giving my husband who is sick some food items he enjoys, very simple! I already feel overwhelmed with the advertisements on TV, I feel like I'm way behind and should have everything done already, NOT. And we will start our candy making soon, we give lots of candy at Christmas time.

  18. Years ago we stopped at a our neighbors on Christmas Eve. Their two children were opening presents. It was a blended family, so there were lots of Grandmas and Grandpas and Aunts and Uncles. The kids had a mountain of presents in the living room and were attacking them. They ripped the paper of one, glanced at it,dropped it, and grabbed for the next one. I thought it was obscene. The next year we started making all our presents. The first couple of years it was hard, and I had to do a lot of explaining, but I am so glad I kept it up. If I buy anything, it may be for a sock exchange or some other fun little thing. Christmas shouldn't be about presents, but about remembering Jesus' birth, and being with those you love.

  19. Bravo! I completely agree! We have never given lots of gifts at Christmas as it takes away from the focus of the holidays. Consequently, my kids never suffered from the "gimmees" and were (and still are) appreciative of the few gifts they did receive each year. I think that if kids are given lots of gifts, they get the impression that each present isn't really that special in and of itself.

    A few of us teachers team up each year to hold a book fair right before Christmas. The junior high students' response has always been tremendous–they want books as presents. Their parents' reactions? Not so much. If they can get their parents to come to school, the adults might say, "Oh, you don't want books. I'm getting you that new….for Christmas." It's so sad.

    The smartest kids I've ever taught are the readers and have parents who encourage it. Attitudes are caught, not necessarily taught.

  20. I don't get the excessive spending and going into debt so you kids can have the latest and greatest…we do Christmas with family values in mind. Presents but creative things and always books! I like the idea of taking them to a bookstore and letting them buy a book of their choice! Might just be a new Christmas tradition here!

  21. I agree with you totally and I do think that more and more people are feeling the same way. I give a gift card to each daughter, son in law and grandchild – they can pick their own present which they seem very happy to do and I stay our of the stores as I do it all on line. They actually asked for the gift cards about 5 years ago when I tried to feel them out on what they would want. So I am happy to give what they want – they know I won't spend a small fortune but they are happy. I do not like shopping at Christmas time – I don't feel depressed but overwhelmed if I am trying to pick out the perfect gift. I was so pleased the last two years when visiting our daughter in Wisconsin in late September just a week before our granddaughters birthday when asking her to go shopping to pick out a birthday present I asked where did she want to go and it was Barnes and Nobel – she had the book all picked out – she turned 12 and loves books since very little.

  22. I made the mistake of going out to the shops yesterday – not the mall, I'm not totally stupid? But, everywhere I went it was so crowded. All I was looking for was red candles, but I told myself that I could wait until Monday until most people are back at work.

    I never give a toy for a young child's Christmas or birthday gift – I always give a book. I have given the same alphabet book for years to little ones. It is an touchy feely alphabet book with lots of pop ups. Mothers have told me that their children love touching the animals and tracing out the letters. If Barnes and Nobel was tracking my purchases they might wonder why I have bought so many copies of the same book

  23. I try to avoid shopping at this time of year too-I do it all in one afternoon to get it over with. I agree about books for gifts. We take our daughter to the book store all the time as a reward for good grades, doing well on her karate test……… She is a lover of books and I love it! Have great day my friend!

  24. I don't like all the commercialism either, Brenda. It seems to get worse all the time.My daughter does the neatest thing. Her kids get three gifts from Santa. They make up a list and she can choose (Santa can). Just like the 3 Wise men each brought a gift to Jesus-she ties it into the bible story. It could be as simple as a hula hoop or more complicated. But I do love the idea.

    Hope you have a peaceful Sunday. xo Diana

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