By now it seems just about everyone has been touched by the downturn in the economy. From traders on Wall Street to workers on Main Street, everyone has been struggling to make their limited resources go as far as possible. From everyday trips to the grocery store to big holiday shopping sprees, consumers around the country and around the world will be counting their pennies. This penny pinching is expected to affect merchants in every category of retail, from electronics stores to sellers of high end clothing. The expected cutback in consumer spending will also no doubt have a major impact on families from all walks of life. No doubt many parents are already dreading the holiday season ahead, worried that their children will be disappointed and worried that they will not be able to provide the type of Christmas morning they have seen in previous years.
While this type of fear and disappointment is certainly real, there are some potential silver linings among all these financial clouds. The slowdown we have seen can provide us with a new way to view the holiday season. Taking a step back and taking another look at what is truly important is a great way to gain a new perspective and a new appreciation of our families and our lives.
After all, once upon a time the Christmas holiday did not revolve around opening presents. With the notable exception of the guest of honor at the first Christmas, gifts were not a part of the celebration. Instead the Christmas holiday and the days leading up to it were a time to celebrate life, love and family. Now may be the time for everyone to take a good look at their own lives and return to these simpler (and more meaningful) holiday traditions.
Before the rise of the consumer culture the holiday season was a time for friends and family to come together, to thank God for the gifts they had received and to pray for a brighter future. While the religious significance of the Christmas season has not been lost, it is often drowned out in the cacophony of holiday sales and the rush of holiday shopping. Instead of dreading the fact that this holiday season will be leaner, now is the time to celebrate the true nature of the season.
So instead of worrying that your kids will miss out on the latest TV-inspired toys, take this opportunity to teach them about the true nature of the Christmas season. While the thought of fewer presents may be an unwelcome development, in the long run the kids will appreciate the importance of family and the memories they make.