No presents this year, and I'm loving it

Every year I get a little bit more sickened by the crass commercialism of Christmas. Setting aside any religious meaning, Christmas is supposed to be a light in the darkness - something to look forward to in the dead of winter.

Instead, once we become adults, Christmas is a huge ball of stress twisting away in our guts. We spend far more than we can afford, afraid of feeling embarrassed if other people spend more on us than we did on them. But we don't buy them what they *need*. They already have everything they need. So we buy them some novelty that makes them smile for a moment before they put it away in a drawer. In a few weeks, it'll go into landfill, where its plastic packaging will take 400 years to decompose.

When I look back at the Christmases of my youth, the best memories are of tinsel and fairy lights; food and family; cards and treats. I don't remember getting a bike or a games console, although I probably did. What I remember is using Christmas as an excuse to celebrate with family and friends.

So this year, I'm not doing presents. I won't be giving any and I won't be getting any. My nephews and nieces are getting money from me, which they can spend on whatever they like. I probably won't get to spend much time (if any) with them, but nothing changes there. I simply don't have much in common with their parents.

I *will* be spending time with my true family and friends, and thanks to the events of the last couple of years, and the suffering I've been through, I now know for certain who they are. With these precious people, I'll enjoy food, Christmas crackers, cards, tinsel, fairy lights, treats, games, hugs, and heartfelt conversations. I just won't need to destroy the environment, contribute to other people's stress, or put myself in debt to do that.

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