As I have said before, I come from a Polish peasant background where my people valued any material wealth they could accumulate. In the old country, if they found a piece of broken glass or a bent piece of rusty metal, they would squirrel it away because, as the old Polish idiom goes, “it will come in handy.” Perhaps they could fashion some sort of shiv from the glass or sharpen the metal so that they could whittle a pistol out of wood they had stolen.

Peasant poverty was just like prison except there was no getting out early for good behavior. As a matter of fact, it was good behavior that kept them oppressed and poor. A lump of coal for Christmas was occasion for joy and gratitude. It would help them through the winter and maybe allow them to escape to the cities — or even America.

Once in America, old habits were hard to break. The old folks still accumulated broken glass and rusty metal, warning the kids that they had better hold onto anything that comes their way because the Feudal Lords may come by at any time and take it for themselves — minus the ten percent that, of course, had to go to the church.

And so we hoarded our Erector Sets, doll houses, Chatty Cathy and Lincoln Logs. We would never let go of what pieces remained of Mr. Potato Head. The View Master and Kodak Instamatic is still with us, as are all the snapshots that do not deserve to be called photographs that we made when film was king and the wallet-size print was queen.

We are older now. We are Americans and we don’t really need anything. We may be broke, but we’re material magnates. We are looking at concepts like paring down, downsizing or simply simplifying. And now comes Christmas with its heavily entrenched and fortified tradition of gift giving. There is no way to root it out and subdue it but … come closer so that you can hear me: there is a way around it.

It’s time to announce that we will no longer be humbuggers trying to restrict gift givers — bring on the gifts as long as all the gifts are consumables. By consumables, I am not referring to consumer goods and durable items. No, we are talking about items that can be used up, spent, eaten or evaporated. These are gifts that take up no space or disappear when used.

There is no shortage of consumables. Food and drink are always at the top of the list and that can include things like dog food or a bottle of fine wine — for the cat. Consider a grocery store as you would a gift shop that doesn’t offer gift wrapping.

Entertainment bestowed will not end up in a storage box. Gifts of meals out, hotel rooms, travel, theatrical performances, concerts and even fireworks qualify. Toiletries and personal care products are something everyone can use and use up. Going a step further, you can gift people with personal services — hair, nails, massage and those Botox treatments that no insurance policy will even think about covering.

Are your gift recipients remodeling? Then building supplies fall under the consumable category, but more stable people can always use fuel (wood, fuel oil, batteries) and new energy-efficient light bulbs. A payment on their utility accounts would be greatly appreciated, be it electric, internet or dumpster.

There are many more creative ways to give gifts without the danger of people tripping over them later and sending them to the hospital or morgue. Charitable contributions in the name of your gift receiver are deeply rooted in the Christmas spirit. Memberships to organizations might be appropriate, and of course education for fun can include gift certificates to cooking and gardening classes or, I don’t know, shiv design and construction.

Some of your loved ones just don’t want to accumulate any more stuff. If you gift them with consumables, they can be truly gracious, thankful and appreciative. And after you leave, they can enjoy using up the stuff you gave them and, to put the icing on the cake, be rid of it.

Yes, bring us some figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer. Personally, I’ll settle for a block of Tillamook cheese, a hunk of hard salami and a bottle of Yukon Jack. That’ll go a long way sharing with friends this holiday season and won’t add anything to my substantial rusty metal pile.