November 25, 2012

Bleak Friday Begins The Season

Well, we are now officially in the Christmas season. That is right; people are now getting their shop on. From now until December 24, Christmas Eve, people will shop, shop, shop for gifts for family, friends, and co-workers. For some, this means gift cards while others will desperately look for that perfect gift, which means they may end up settling on lotion and bubble bath.

This, in my humble opinion, is a problem. We put so much pressure on ourselves to find that perfect present that we lose sight of why we are shopping. We want to give gifts to our family and friends because we love them, right? Yet we find ourselves so stressed out that we no longer even care about the gift, so we settle for something easy. I don’t like it.

I love to give gifts. I love to find something that makes me think of my friends or family members and purchase it for them. I also love to buy them something that they really want or need. I do not love to be pressured to spend a certain amount just because. I want to buy something great not something just because I have to. This is ultimately why I do not like Black Friday, why I call it Bleak Friday.

Giving gifts should come from a place of love and happiness thus shopping for those gifts should also come from that place. If we shop and are stressed about shopping, then that negativity will bleed through. Instead of enjoying the exchange of gifts on Christmas, we will feel that negative pull, that pressure to have found the perfect gift, and ultimately we will feel the disappointment when the response isn’t equal to the pressure we put on ourselves. Yuck.

So, how do we fix these feelings? Well, first, we must realize that giving gifts is about the thought and love we put into them. When we remember that people bought us presents because they love us, and we bought them presents because we love them, then suddenly the pressure of perfection is not nearly as important. Presents should represent love not in the cost or the actual gift, but in the fact that someone bought us something and that we are buying something for someone we love.

Eliminating the stress of Christmas shopping starts within ourselves. We have to rethink our goals and purposes. We are not buying gifts to prove something; we are buying gifts because we love our friends and family.

Love is the ultimate reason for any gift exchange. We want to give something to someone we love that will make them think of us. Sometimes that gift is a particular type of electronic device while other times that gift is one we make. Sometimes the gift is a gift card to their favorite store, a basket of baked goodies, or even a bottle of wine. What should matter is that we give something because we love.

This year, instead of being so stressed about Christmas presents that we don’t enjoy the time with family and friends, we should love what we are doing. I am going to change my attitude about the season. I am going to make presents because I love my people. I am going to shop because I love my family and friends. Bleak Friday is not going to get me down.

Image Credit: haveseen / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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