It’s that season again — when UPS delivery people work overtime to rush fruitcakes and ill-fitting sweaters to our far-flung friends and relatives, and Americans everywhere get into the holiday spirit by bludgeoning each other to get the bargain smartphones at their favorite big-box store.
This year, Grist Senior Editor Greg Hanscom has decided to fight back. On Black Friday, he penned an open letter to friends and family asking them to get his two young daughters nothing for Christmas, and explaining that he and his wife, Tara, are trying to put the focus on special holiday experiences rather than just amassing more stuff. The letter attracted the attention of the TV news program 20/20, which included Greg and his family in its Friday evening holiday extravaganza. The name of 20/20’s segment: “Christmas Extremists.”
Greg served as the foil for Shay Gibbons, whose Tulsa, Okla., home, according to 20/20, is decked out with 169 Christmas trees, 100 nativity scenes, dozens of inflatable yard characters, 50,000 ornaments, and 100,000 lights. After a tour of the Gibbons home, the camera flashes to Greg, explaining that he doesn’t get his kids Christmas presents — a quote that gets replayed with a hilarious echo effect just for added impact on the shopping public. Here’s the segment:
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That’s right! Jesus would approve of this holiday madness! He was a big shopper after all …
OK, truth be told, Greg’s kids loved the part about all the Christmas trees. They’re campaigning for a road trip to Tulsa just to get a look at the Gibbons house.
But lest you think Greg’s message was lost on the credit-card waving hordes, there’s this: A viewer poll that ran alongside the video on 20/20’s website asked, “Who’s got more Holiday spirit: the Tulsa woman with 169 Christmas trees or the Seattle dad who gives his kids experiences instead of gifts?”
At last count, Gibbons had 173 votes. Grist’s “Eco-dad” had 1,101. Eat your heart out, Santa Claus! (1,375 voters called it a tie. Want to add your vote? The survey is here.)
What do you make of all this? Are you struggling to dematerialize your holiday? Got a favorite stuff-free seasonal ritual? We’d love to know. We’ll be hosting a Twitter chat on the subject tomorrow. UPDATE: Twitter chat begins on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 12:30 Pacific time (that’s 3:30 p.m. Eastern). We’ll be using the hash tag #shiftthegift. Follow @grist for details.
Not into the Twitter? Write a comment below, or comment on our Facebook page. Whatever you do, be careful out there: You do not want to get between America and its Christmas deals.