It’s been a minute! More like 30 years, in fact! I want to thank you for filling my Christmases with wonder. And for bringing me the cabbage patch doll that one time. And for leaving candy canes on my Christmas tree. And for always eating the cookies and milk we left out for you. Did you know you checked off most, if not all, the boxes on my annual “What I want for Christmas” list? And for that, I’m forever grateful!
I’m writing to you now, dear Santa, because little girl me has grown into adult shopaholic me, who has turned my “What I want for Christmas” list into a year-long spending spree. If you look at my Amazon orders, you would have to agree: I’ve become a spending monster. A ball that moves by itself for the dogs. A set of OXO Good Grips pop containers. A pickleball ball retriever. Sleeveless blouses. Longsleeve blouses. Sweat pants. Rain paints. A yellow toaster with a digital screen that counts down until the toast pops up. All of these things are a click away. Not a week goes by without an assortment of brown boxes neatly stacked on our porch, fresh from delivery. Lately, I’ve been procuring stuff I see on TikTok, where influencers tell me which make-up is best and which curling iron makes the perfect curl. And I don’t even wear make-up and rarely style my hair!
The problem isn’t necessarily that I’m buying these things to soothe an ongoing existential dread, which is a problem. Instead, I can barely afford my shopping addiction as my credit card debt grows more prominent than the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
And I don’t think it’s just me with this problem, Santa. According to a recent Federal Reserve of New York report, credit card balances climbed more than 15% from a year earlier, the most significant annual jump in more than 20 years! Another report shows that more than half of Americans with credit card debt have been in debt for at least a year. Of course, there is inflation to blame, among other factors, but it’s hard not to feel like we, Americans, have turned the consumerism of Christmas into a never-ending shopping spree.
For example, do you know what a QR code is? It’s a symbol you scan with your phone that instantly gives information. And when you watch certain TV shows, you can scan a QR code on the screen and shop for items the characters are wearing. It’s hard not to feel like we live in a simulation, where everything is an advertisement or a commercial. And sadly, one of our own making.
I’m writing to you, Santa, to help stop the madness. If not for those already prisoners to our wants, for the next generation who has yet to be trapped. You, as the symbol of giving— maybe give less. Maybe leave one gift per child instead of 20. Maybe tell your elves that they can cut back on their marketing budget this year. Please, no Christmas deals until at least December. And Black Friday and Cyber Monday have to go too. Holidays should not feel more like a discount aisle in a department store than a reason to celebrate!
Alas, I’m so tired of wanting things, Santa. Of being sold on desiring what I don’t have. Because each new want takes me further away from being happy with what I have, which is plenty. I remember as a kid feeling green with envy at some of the gifts my wealthier cousins got each Christmas— which blinded me from feelings of gratitude. It was exhausting feeling that way. It’s still exhausting feeling that way.
All of this inevitably leads me back to you, dear Santa. Because all I want for Christmas next year is freedom from want. I would like you to take the year off and stay at the North Pole. Spend time instead with the missus and your adorable team of reindeer. Give those elves a break!
To be sure, it will sting at first–not getting the presents we want under our Christmas trees. But the absence of so many things may be filled, instead, by the presence of each other.
Can you imagine what a magical Christmas that could be?
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