But I like Christmas gifts!

A few nights ago, my siblings-in-law were over to discuss what method of gift-giving we were going to try this year to minimize expenses. In Christmases past, we tried drawing names, imposing spending restrictions, making a rule that gifts must be homemade, must be consumable, or contributing to charities in lieu of gifts. We couldn’t seem to agree on any of those methods this year. Every method had its problems. Drawing names was dumb because no matter who got who, the guys always ended up buying for the guys and the girls always ended up buying for the girls. Spending restrictions don’t work, because you search and search for something under $50, meanwhile passing up all the “perfect gifts” for that person because they are $51, and you end up getting them cheap crap. And homemade gifts? Yes, my artsy-craftsy very talented sister-in-law makes excellent homemade gifts, but my husband and my attempts at gift-making are always crap, and we end up going out and blowing money on last minute gifts. Donating to charities is wonderful, but my brother-in-law hit the nail on the head when he said “but I like getting Christmas gifts!”

These days, we are almost made to feel guilty for wanting stuff for Christmas. It’s funny, while being constantly bombarded by ads for the latest and greatest electronics, toys that will magically turn your kids into geniuses and a Lexus in your living room on Christmas morning, we are also being told to get rid of stuff in order to be happy, and to stop the consumerism.

But, like my brother in law, I also like getting Christmas gifts. When you get to be my folks’ age, you’ve probably already acquired most of the things you need, and you can go out and buy the things you want anytime – you don’t have to wait for Christmas to see if someone else will buy it for you. Therefore, it’s easy to say “all I want for Christmas is to spend time with you.” When you are my age, struggling to make ends meet, we have a list of needs, in order of priority. And waaaay down on the list are “wants” that we will never buy for ourselves, because there is always something needed more, especially now that we have a kid.

So when my family asks what I want for Christmas, do I feel a little immature and selfish handing over a “list” instead of saying let’s just spend time together? Yeah, I do. But you know what? I love getting lists from others. I love picking and choosing what to buy off that list and shopping for it. I love to get a little something besides what’s on the list, something special just for that person, a little Christmas surprise.

So this year we decided not to make any rules. We will spend what we want, buy what we want and give what we want to who we want. My husband and I may not be able to spend as much as others this year, but it doesn’t matter. They are our family, they love us and we love them. It’s not a competition with us – it’s thoughtful gift-giving.

Getting what I want for Christmas is a wonderful feeling – it allows me to cross a few things off my list, and I like to think giving out a list makes shopping for me a little less stressful for others. And making someone happy once a year by giving them a gift they wanted or that is a pleasant surprise? That’s the best feeling of all. And that’s what Christmas is really all about for me.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Linda Paul
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 02:34:29

    I confess that I get a little freaked out about Christmas. What I've come to realize is that some people seem to have an inherent ability to come up with the most perfect gift…even given budget restraints. I've had relatives and friends who present me with gifts I'd never even thought of for myself. Yet those gifts were so perfect! Me, I feel gift challenged. I start thinking about Christmas in January. I want to come up with the perfect gifts for the people on my special list. But I always feel like I've come up a hair short. Either the gift doesn't fit, or it's the wrong color, or they already have 10 of them, or it was made in the wrong country…I just lack that ever so perfect talent. And I also panic when faced with the home made restriction. I love and embrace the idea…but my home made concoctions never measure up. That's why I gave away my sewing machine. If I can't wear what I sew, I sure wouldn't feel right about giving what a sew! My ineptness makes me appreciate the gifts I receive even more.


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