BY MARK LORENTZ
It’s the most wonderful time of year – for retailers. The holiday season is upon us and more than likely your chequing account is going to take a hit, but it doesn’t have to be a large one. Across Canada, less money is being spent on the holidays as we become conscious of our spending habits.
According to a poll conducted by RBC in October, shoppers overall are planning to reduce the amount they spend on gifts by about three per cent, to $608 this year, down from $628 last year. From the outside a $20 drop doesn’t seem like much, however, a steady decline in spending has been occurring since 2011, and that’s not a bad thing.
The holiday season has become a spectacle, from neighbours taking plays out of the Griswold’s book of having the best Christmas displays, to families of four having enough presents around their trees to hide the floor under a blanket of gifts. Long forgotten are the roots of the holiday season. While technically incorporating traditions from Biblical times, Christmas has always been about friends and family coming together and simply enjoying each other’s company, no gifts required.
Children will continue to be spoiled, thanks in large part to jolly ol’ Saint Nicholas, who, even when money is tight in the household, manages to find a way to get that special toy, whereas adults are content with good food and drinks amongst friends.
There are plenty of other ways to spend the holidays, including spending time at a local homeless shelter or seniors home, instead of spending money in the mall. Homeless shelters across Waterloo Region are always looking for volunteers, with some even being open Christmas Day to feed the less fortunate in our community. If you really want to feel the “spirit of Christmas” go down to a local soup kitchen, and don’t just prep food or wash dishes, but take a few minutes and talk to the people there. It might be a small impact on their lives and yours, but you will always remember that one Christmas Day when you shared stories and a laugh or two with a complete stranger.
It’s important for us as a society to step back from the holiday rush, and really consider what the really important parts of the holidays are.