Sunday, December 16, 2007

What is Christmas All About, Anyway?

It's such a slow day at work today that I went onto the To-Do List blog to see what updates the author has put up in the past week. Her latest, "On Christmas Lists", put into words a lot of the mixed feelings and thoughts I've been having about giving gifts and what Christmas is really all about. She basically asked how her adult readers feel about making out Christmas lists for their parents, grandparents, etc. It's a very thought-provoking post, I recommend reading it. The link to the blog is on the left side of our blog page.

Here was the comment I posted with my thoughts and responses:

"The older I get, the more uncomfortable I become with writing out Christmas list. It seems so materialistic. To me, Christmas is more about bringing joy to the people you love rather than buying them a fancy gift. Because of that belief, I've started making gifts for family members rather than buying them. Not knicknacky stuff, but things I really work hard on that I think they'll actually use.

If I do shopping at all, it's either for my husband (we try to figure out things for each other that we would both enjoy having) or fun smaller things that I see which someone has mentioned really wanting/liking but weren't on their "gift lists". Some of the most fun gifts are the ones that come out of the blue but show that the person really considered what fits your personality.

Like a lot of other people, the hardest people for me to shop for are the family members that I don't like or talk to. How am I suppose to know what they would really enjoy if I don't even talk to them? And why are we obligated to get gifts for these people just by virtue of them being from the same bloodline?

As for gift cards...I've decided that I'm swearing off of them for Christmas and Birthdays (weddings are ok, I loved getting gift cards for our wedding presents). What's the point? A gift card doesn't say "I thought long and hard about something that would make you feel cared for." And if you have NO idea what the person would like, why are you getting them a gift?

Thanks for this post, it put into words the half-formed ideas surrounding gift giving that have been bothering me this season!"

This year, I think I bought (didn't make) gifts for all of 3 family members. And all of those gifts were things that I know they will enjoy. The older I get, the less I worry about what I am getting and the more I thoroughly enjoy putting a ton of thought into the gifts I'm giving my loved ones...and the less I'm willing to do gifts for extended family that I simply have no contact with. Why break the bank for people you don't talk to during the rest of the year, simply because you were born into the same family?

I've started feeling like we're looking at Christmas only as an opportunity to rake in all that stuff that we can't afford to get ourselves. That's not the point of Christmas! I really hope this didn't come across as self-rightous or anything, this all just got me thinking. Maybe I should swear off making Christmas lists. Or is it unfair to assume that just because I pay attention through the year to what other people mention they want/need, that they're going to do the same for me? Well tough, I'm tired of feeling like I'm contributing to Christmas being a primarily consumer holiday.

I'm done. Thoughout the year, I'll be asking family members if there are things that they would like, or will be listening for clues. I don't have a problem with putting in the extra effort to come up with something you would like without resorting to asking you for a predictable list that will take the fun and surprise out of it. If you don't want to put in the similar effort, that's ok. Seriously, it's ok.

I don't know where Nathan stands on this, so please don't lump him in with how I feel. He can come up with his own opinion on the matter.

Whew, I feel better now that I've made a decision on that. :) I really hope no one was offended or hurt, that wasn't my intention, I was simply writing down thoughts and clearing my head.


The Carlsons said...

I agree. I think it's so fun to surprise eachother with things. Plus, money is really tight so a lot of what we get for Christmas are things that we need, for example Shem NEEDS a new collared shirt so he's getting that for Christmas as a gift! :) That's how it was when I was growing up, too. I love it. I think it's so awesome when Shem gets me something that he thought of all by himself, so I don't make a "wish list" and he has no idea what he wants so that really helps out on my end :)
You're cute, I still look at that to-do list site it's pretty funny.

The Carlsons said...

oh and this is so funny, my mom and i were talking the other day about how we WISH we would get gift cards for Christmas hahahaha :) We both LOVE shopping, she loves shopping for fabric and I love shopping for clothes or shoes (haha, generation gap I guess) and so getting a gift card to us says "here! go shopping!" not "here, i had no idea what to get you!" but of course, our husbands know that we love to shop so they know we'd love a gift card now and then. haha :)
i know what you mean though, about gift cards because getting one because you didn't know what else to get, i think that's silly. we loved gift cards for our wedding because when you're starting out all you want is to pick out your own things to make your own home your own! haha
your post just gave me a lot to talk about. whew. sorry :)