“Let’s not do Christmas gifts anymore.”
Those dreaded words would instill fear and sorrow in the hearts of children all across the world. Those words were spoken two Christmases ago in my family.
My first thought was why. Why in the world would someone not want to give gifts? After all, that’s what people did. People wrapped. People shopped. People spent money they didn’t have. Why? All for the sake of jolly old Saint Nick, the 12 reindeer and consumerism.
We all know Christmas has transformed over the past few thousand years. As Christians, we celebrate the life of our Jesus. We go to church, remember the reason for the season and still use the actual word ‘Christmas.’ And yet we still spend money like it’s going out of style.
Do not get me wrong. I love giving gifts just as much as I love getting gifts, but it makes you wonder. How did we get here? Gift giving has gone to a whole different level than even when my parents were kids. My mom reminds me that she never got the kind of items that I have received during my past 21 Christmases.
According to an infographic on Visual.ly.com titled, “How Much do Americans Spend over Christmas,” “The average family budget for Christmas in 2012 was $749.51. That’s up from over the $740.57 that an average family spent last year. 38 percent of people will use all or some of their savings, and 17 percent will borrow from one source to another.”
With online shopping, credit cards and layaway deals, it’s no wonder that Americans are so addicted to Christmas shopping — and so deep in debt.
But the spending isn’t just limited to gifts.
According to the article, “Americans Are Spending a Whopping $6 Billion On Christmas Decorations this Year,” “This year  Americans will spend a whopping $6 billion on Christmas decorations, including LED lights, 16-foot-tall inflatable Santas and pre-decorated trees. This marks the highest amount ever recorded by the National Retail Federation, which started tracking information back in 2005.”
I can only imagine that the number has continued to grow during the past two years. People want the perfect tree, the perfect animatronics reindeer and the perfect LED lights adorning every square inch of their houses.
But when I look back on my past Christmases, my favorite memories are not those of huge, decorated trees, numerous presents or the inflatable Santa in front of my home.
No, I remember my brother dressing up as Santa. I remember decorating cookies with my mom. I remember sprinkling “reindeer food” outside on the lawn in case they got hungry during their trip. I remember reading the Christmas story and thanking God for a Savior who continues to give to us when we least deserve it.
And honestly, those are things that money can’t buy.
Mckenzie Masters is Cardinal & Cream editor-in-chief.