DH gives gifts to extended family (Parents, siblings and their children, but not his own cousins or aunts and uncles). He agonizes over it. He has to get each person the perfect gift that shows he’s been thinking about them. Last year he included notes about exactly why he bought each item, “Mom, I know you don’t put out the entire village anymore, but I bought this [small ceramic store] because it reminds me of Christmases growing up surrounded by love and family.” That sort of thing.
It’s the way they show love in his family. His parents love our kid a LOT. (And they love all their grandkids equally. They spend a TON on Christmas, but they can afford it and it makes them happy, so who are we to judge? We just don’t let Santa come by ourselves and my parents give books instead of toys.) They also do a lot of decorating– all of our decorations except the annual tree comes from them. DH is a bit stunned that throughout the years they’ve never sent DC a stocking. We need one this year. (DH and I both have extravagantly embroidered ones with our names from our first Christmas).
My mom I usually get a $50 gift card to the local bookstore so she can buy stuff to read when she visits. My dad is impossible to shop for… he likes small odd food items and gets upset if you spend too much money on him. He’s a bad gift receiver. Sometimes we don’t get him anything at all and that’s better than getting him something he doesn’t want. Occasionally he’ll tell us exactly what he wants and that’s nice. (Ex. One bottle of benedictine brandy. Done and done.) My sister usually says what she wants and it’s always something pretty expensive. In the years she doesn’t say we get her something she doesn’t know she needs for the kitchen. This year it is going to be a French Press coffee maker and some coffee. They all generally get me stuff off my amazon wishlist, which makes me happy.
Near the end of the shopping season, #2 and I go ahead and buy stuff off each other’s Amazon wish lists that we really wanted but the philistines who buy presents for us opted not to get us. (Note: They’re not really Philistines!) Sure, we’re really just getting stuff for ourselves, but it feels better coming from someone else, right?
Our kid “got” Halloween for the first time this year. It was very eye-opening to hir and opened a strong desire for candy. I’m a little worried that Christmas will be the same way and unleash the need for new stuff. (S)He’s been astonishingly resistant to consumerism up to this point despite having everything (the Elmo robot, a Wii, copious train sets etc.), but that was probably just because (s)he was still so young.
So, um, to sum: DH’s family gives lots of gifts and puts lots of time, effort, and money into Christmas. My family is more about the food and practical stuff. I love putting all the things I want to buy throughout the year on my list and getting it all at Christmas and my birthday. (Well, most of it.) Having a gift exchange partner to get some of the things you really wanted for you seems silly but totally works. Otherwise what’s to stop 12 months of frivolous spending? Consumerism may be unavoidable… I’m guessing our luck will run out this year on that front.
This was going to be a way deeper and more organized post than it ended up (hence the title) about thinking carefully and showing love etc. But seriously, the end of the semester is killing us.
What is your Christmas Gifts Philosophy (for those who celebrate holiday giving)?