‘Tis the Season or Not

They are already begging us to line up in the middle of the night or the crack of dawn to start buying gifts.  I’ll freely admit to decades of massive present buying.  No more.

When your children are young, it is as if you become possessed.  It isn’t enough to buy them the things THEY want, you have to get them all the things YOU wanted when you were their age.

The problem is that they end up with too much. It’s like being served four ice cream desserts at once.  Do you eat one while the others melt?  Or just sample a bit of everything?  Or eat it all and feel really sick?

Then there are all the other family members – parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles.  I do not come from a particularly big family but our holiday party included up to 40 people by the time my kids were in their late teens.  Everyone brought a present for everyone else, even though there were people there I didn’t see from one year to the next. 

Over the year, I spent a lot of time picking out presents or making them.  I tried to really find something appropriate and I wanted to see the person open my present.  One year, two or three people started passing out gifts and everyone began opening them as soon as they were presented. 

In 20 minutes, the room looked like a trash dump with all the ribbons and wrapping paper.  I couldn’t see anyone looking very pleased about anything.  It was like watching a pie eating contest.  The pies might be tasty but it was all too much.

As my old neighbor used to say, all hell flew into me.  I was finished with this insanity.  I stood up and asked for attention.  I pointed to the hurricane of gifts and wrapping and said something like this:  “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think this has gone too far.  I would like to suggest that since there are no young children in our family any more that we all stop exchanging presents at the party. Starting next year, I won’t be exchanging gifts with anyone but my parents and children. If you want to exchange presents with anyone, I hope you will do it another time.  This party will just be a time for us to get together and socialize.”

They agreed and just like that, I was free!  It has been wonderful not to buy or receive a bunch of stuff I couldn’t afford or didn’t want.  I don’t face giant credit card bills in January.  I can spend time baking cookies to share or making quilt tops for charity, if I want.  I can donate money to the Food Bank or the Christmas Mother.

Best of all, the holidays are no longer a chore, a huge list of things to do that you feel you will never get through.  I can enjoy the sound of the season on my radio and look at the twinkling lights in the neighborhood and at the mall – just in case I happen to stop by.


6 thoughts on “‘Tis the Season or Not

  1. Well said and we even go one step further just give the Grandkids money no more trying to figure out what they like or have etc, they are all teenagers. Enjoy the Holidays to you and your family.

    • Yes, unless I see something for my adult children that I am SURE they want, I give them a check. Happy everything to you, too!

  2. I agree about everyone unwrapping their presents at once and no one seeing what anyone else got. I make my 8 grandkids take turns opening their presents so I can see everything. My kids didn’t think it would work the first time I suggested it, but the kids are very good, albeit a little impatient, about waiting their turn. It makes the gift opening last much longer too, as well as the enjoyment.

    • Oh, yes, we absolutely used that at home with the kids. We wanted a picture of them with each present! :> And I think it makes them more aware of the presents to take their time with each one – and with watching us open ours.

  3. When my boys were little, they were not always impressed with getting new pajamas for Christmas. Now that they are grown, they think that new socks are the best gift they can get from Mom. I guess they found out how much socks cost!

    • Kate, I think that’s pretty funny. But it does remind me of my kids once they had their own apartments. I would give them a new set of sheets or a complete set of towels. Otherwise, they would use those towels until they dissolved!

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