Unplugged Christmas


It isn’t that we don’t like celebrating each other. It’s just that we got tired of fighting crowds to spend money we couldn’t really afford to buy things none of us really needed. We have our birthdays for special presents, after all.

We reached the point where spending an hour taking turns opening gifts and gathering up a tree’s-worth of wrapping paper became a surfeit. It helped when we opened presents carefully, saving the paper and using it to wrap smaller and smaller presents as the years went by, until the scraps were too small to be reused. It helped when we started using gift bags that are still in the family, still being passed around after years of use and re-use.

But we didn’t get happy until we all agreed, with great relief, that we would only give Christmas presents to the kids 18 and younger. The money we would have spent on gifts, we donate, especially favoring Heifer International.

For more on this concept, read Bill McKibben’s post on the Hundred Dollar Holiday, and this one by Michael Jessen on Unplugging the Christmas Machine.

We still celebrate the holiday, we still give gifts (for the little ones), we give one another presents all during the year instead of strip-mining our bank balances all at a time.

And our Christmas season is merry and bright.

Try it some time, maybe, and see if you agree.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: A character celebrates a holiday in a way other people consider odd.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Unplugged Christmas

  1. jane

    December 19, 2013 at 9:35am

    Wonderful sentiment.
    I think it also helps if you just strike everyone off your Christmas list who did you a dirty (lately, or just EVER is fine with me). This also makes gifting decisions much simpler. 😉

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  2. Mary Montague Sikes

    December 19, 2013 at 11:56am

    This is certainly a worthy concept, but I still enjoy unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning. Happy holidays, Marian!!!

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      Marian Allen

      December 19, 2013 at 12:23pm

      I have two friends I still exchange gifts with. One I meet in person to exchange and open gifts. The other one, we exchange gifts by mail; I save those for Christmas morning.

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  3. Jim Hilton

    December 19, 2013 at 6:57pm

    I like everything you said, but I guess what I’ve figured out here is that I shouldn’t expect an extravagant gift from you (again) this year… oh well 🙂
    Merry Christmas!

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      Marian Allen

      December 19, 2013 at 8:56pm

      You’re very perspicacious. So … is an extravagant compliment a suitable substitute? 😉

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  4. Jim Hilton

    December 19, 2013 at 9:50pm

    Your magnanimous munificence is unquestionably nonpareil 🙂

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