How to decenter holidays from gifts


Annie Bai

OH, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE. But we’re so glad you did. In a survey of the 9-12 student body with 12% responding, giving and receiving gifts topped the best part of winter celebrations, followed by unstructured time with family.

Annie Bai, The Rubicon

When people think of celebrations and holidays, what is the first thing that comes to their minds? Gifts. But is that really the true purpose of celebrating these special days? Gifts have been becoming increasingly important during holidays causing celebrators to forget about the true meaning of these celebrations; to spend time with your loved ones. Whether it’s a friend, neighbor, or family, holidays are times when you can relax and be around the people you love.
Consider the five love languages; words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Gifts are only one of the five ways to express and receive love.
Major holidays or celebrations like birthdays often come with the excitement of receiving gifts. The same goes for Christmas which is even worse, as it is a religious holiday with deep meaning aside from exchanging gifts. This can often make people overlook the time they spend together and how meaningful it is. If simple Words of Affirmation or actions can be enough to make someone’s day, the same can be applied to holidays. “I like genuine gifts that say, ‘hey, this made me think of you,’ rather than someone scrambling to find something,” said senior Harper Enneking-Norton. That small phrase can completely change the gift receiver’s mood by showing their gift is genuine. They would be happier knowing that the gift they received reflected their own personality.

I would much rather have more time with family, watching holiday movies, even though I enjoy receiving gifts.

— Hannah Brass

Children often think that the presents they receive equal the amount of love their parents have for them. The less they get the less they are loved. But a parent’s love is shown through all the five love languages yet it can go unnoticed. In a poll answered by 42 SPA students, spending time with loved ones was 14.4% of the students favorite part of holidays. “I just think it’s more about spending as much time with family and friends and then exchanging gifts is like a side part of that,” said freshman Natalie Waibel.
Gifts were by far the students favorite part of celebrations voted by 24%. Celebrations shouldn’t be thought of solely for the purpose of receiving gifts but it seems that is becoming the case. “It distracts from the other things about the holidays, but I know Christmas definitely wouldn’t be as fun without them,” said sophomore Lukas Hembre.
The majority of the student responses said that gifts were an important part of celebrations, that they show love therefore should be the main focus of celebrations. “When you don’t see someone very often, gifts are important to show that you think about them and can always hold a place when you are apart so they keep you in mind.
When you give a gift to someone you see often it shows you care on another level,” said junior Cayenne Ramirez. This brings up a good point about the good part of gifts but, “As a religious person, it’s a bit annoying when people think that’s what Christmas is about. It’s about being with the ones you love and celebrating the future. So it’s nice to give gifts as displays of gratitude/appreciation, but I don’t like that it’s what people think Christmas is about,” said freshman Grace Medrano.
Whether it’s family movie nights on the couch or cuddling under a blanket, physical touch is always a straightforward way to express love. “I would much rather have more time with family, watching holiday movies, even though I enjoy receiving gifts,” said junior Hannah Brass.
Regardless of love language, taking time to express caring to those in your life in their language is always a good plan.