This year we told the folks that we weren’t going to be exchanging gifts, except for giving to the kids in the family. This was primarily due to budgetary reasons, but it’s been oddly freeing. The way it worked in our family was everyone exchanged lists, which family members consulted when buying. This resulted in no unwanted gifts. Upon further reflection, this method is a total sham since there wasn’t any thought involved in the giving. So it seems like we were just spending money with the end result of us getting gifts that we might as well have bought, wrapped and given to ourselves. (At this point, I will credit Trish’s younger sis with bucking the status quo and getting me a book by one of my favorite authors last year.)
This year, the only shopping we did was for our kids, our nephews, and our grandmas. And we’re happy to not have overriding thoughts of where to get a specific gift for a specific person and so forth. It’s not that we don’t want to give, but there should be something more involved than the way it’s been. We can buy things for ourselves all year long, and we’d been using Christmas as little more than an excuse to get more stuff for ourselves in the guise of giving. Next year, we’re thinking of proposing something much simpler – a $10 or $15 budget per person with no lists involved, for small, truly thoughtful gifts.
However, we are REALLY looking forward to Christmas this year. M had been asking occasionally ‘Is Christmas tomorrow?’ so we used that as an impetus to print out and teach him the concept of the calendar. We have a Lego Advent Calendar, but the numbers are all jumbled up so there’s no actual sense of the passage of time (note to Lego: countdowns are fun too!). M’s plan is to stay up all night, waiting for Santa and his reindeer. I remember those days, having a hard time getting to sleep and then rising WAY early the next day and finding out that Santa did come and he left presents for me. I don’t remember specific presents but I do remember the sense of magic. It’s this belief we love seeing in M’s eyes, for however long this dream lasts.