When I was a kid, I used to love Christmas (which kid doesn’t?!).
My parents divorced when I was very little, so I’ve always had two Christmas eves! One with my dad and his family, and one with my mom and her family. Some times I would get presents for 3 days straight (23-24-25), because I also had “step-families” (my mom and dad both remarried a few years after their divorce). I’ve never actually seen their divorce as a misfortune. Because they both remarried I had two happy families – and 4 set of grandparents!
IMAGINE that, as a child at Christmas! – Yes, you guessed it; presents galore!
I’m all grown up now, so naturally Christmas now represents a bit of a paradox to me. I believe in joy and giving, and getting together with your family for some “hygge” (the famous danish word that has no direct English translation – the best I can do is “cozy”) and a jolly good time. But just like so many of our other traditions, our Christmas celebrations today (in this part of the world anyway) seem to have taken a turn for the worse.
As the famous Danish Christmas carol from 1847 goes (last sentence of the last verse):
Julen varer længe, koster mange penge.
“Christmas lasts a while, and costs a lot of money”.
Indeed! Apparently, they were already aware of this fact more than 150 years ago!
It seems as though every year, the stores starts Christmas a little earlier than last year. I swear I saw Christmas decorations in the stores in August this year! (I might be exaggeration a bit here). Just like all our other holiday traditions, Christmas has become 100% commercialized. 5 years ago, we didn’t have Black Friday in Denmark at all* – but somehow the shoppers just wasn’t shopping enough in December as it was – we needed a day to kick-start the crazy Christmas bonanza…
According to this survey (sorry, it’s in danish) the average Danish person (adult) spends DKK 3.420 (€456 / $526) on Christmas presents – and this number rose by more than 15% in the past 4 years.
I have a 5-year old kid, so naturally this time of the year is like nirvana to her. She gets presents every day, because her grandmother made her a “Christmas calendar”, which contain a small present for her to open every day, until the 24th (remember in the nordics we celebrate Christmas eve on the 24th). – Because she doesn’t get enough presents on the 24th already!…
I’m fairly sure my kid gets presents in the excess of those DKK 3.420. – But let’s just imagine we could ALL agree RIGHT now, to stop this madness! Instead of swapping gifts (essentially we’re just swapping money), how about we swap attention, love and presence instead? It’s simple, and it’s very cheap 😉
Instead of spending DKK 3.420 on gifts, we could put that money away, and store it in a low cost passive index tracker for like 18 years, and give THAT gift to our kids instead…Let’s look at how that would look like!
So, as it turns out, if I were to deposit those DKK 3.420 every year (+4% added every year) for 18 years and was able to get a 6% return on that money, the “Christmas Stocking Fund” would be worth DKK 141.677 (€18.890) by the end of that little experiment. 38% of that money would be generated purely by the interest (DKK 53.970 / €7.196). You have now earned the equivalent of 15 years worth of Christmas gifts. Congratulations!
Let’s all do that, instead of indulging in this crazy Christmas madness that “society” (or was it capitalism?) has bestowed upon us…
Happy winter solstice everybody! 😉
Black Friday in Denmark: https://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Friday
Christmas consumption infographs: https://livsstil.tv2.dk/forbrug/2018-12-19-julen-er-dyr-i-aar-her-er-regningen