Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Christmas is canceled

Or, at least, most of my family's Christmas is canceled. I think we decided that last time most of us were together. Actually, it was just the two of us and my mom and my brother, but that's four of the six people who count (and one of the four being my husband who did little to participate anyway except for handing me the money to buy some presents, and then unwrapping those that were handed to him).

Still, three of us did decide that this year will be the year that we don't make a big deal about Christmas gift giving, and I doubt that the other two will argue about it. We kept saying that at some point we were going to change our tradition, and we didn't quite know when we should do that, but it should happen before anyone moved out of state and/or had children. And then someone would bring it up sometime in November, and by that time it is too late, as I do most of my shopping throughout the year, and my brother tends to do most of his shopping all in one day in either November or first week of December. Really, if you want to have an agreement with me concerning Christmas, your best bet is to talk to me by the previous February. But this year the subject came up in July, and the idea didn't seem to bother anyone, so this year is the year that we're going to change things.

Change things to what, we don't know yet. But none of us will be heading to the mall with this list of a bunch of stuff that we have to get for everyone in the family. Maybe we won't exchange any presents at all, or maybe we'll draw names so that we only buy one present each, or maybe we'll give each other little things like homemade soaps or cookies.

So that's about half or a third of the stuff I usually have to do for Christmas canceled. I'm wondering if I shouldn't also cancel most of the rest of it.

When you're a kid you really look forward to Christmas. People give you toys and stuff. There are pretty lights and decorations and candy and special food that you mostly have around the holidays. And you try to get things for other people too, but it's not like you have a job or anything, so you don't give much. Or, at least, you don't give much that costs money if you have to come up with the money yourself. Your gift giving might include cards that you drew with crayons, or cookies that you helped mom make, or candy that you saved your allowance to buy.

As I got older and had more money and got better at the craft stuff, I got to where I enjoyed the giving nearly as much as the getting. And then I got older still, and I got a job, and I could go to the mall and buy regular gifts for the people on my list. At some point after I was an adult, I could buy anything that I just really wanted for myself, and I liked the giving part of Christmas maybe more than I like the getting part. I liked picking out gifts for the rest of my family and imagining how much they would like whatever I got for them.

And then we got older and moved away from home. Not that we moved far away, but we didn't all live in the same house together. We didn't see each other everyday. I moved out of the house nearly twenty years ago.

I don't have a clue what to get these people.

I know a lot about what stuff my brother would want, but I have trouble with the others. But it's hard to buy for my brother too. While I might go to the store and be convinced that my brother would just have to have the new longer version special edition director's cut edition DVD of Lord of the Rings, he's probably already got it. We're all adults now, and except for me we all have jobs now, so if we want something we go and buy it.

So now that everyone has already bought whatever it is that they really want, what is everyone else supposed to get them for Christmas?

Mom gives up on the whole thing and gives us money. The money is very welcome since a.) we have probably just spent a lot of money on Christmas, and b.) my husband usually gets laid off for a week or two right about then and we have less money coming in. Then everyone is asking everyone else what they want for Christmas, and then we have to confer with all the other people to make sure that whatever we've decided to get someone wasn't already purchased by someone else, etc.... My brother usually gets me some DVDs, and I usually get him a certificate and a picture of some DVDs that I would have bought him if I were absolutely sure he didn't already have them. One year everyone got a scarf, except for my mom, who got an IOU for a scarf but never actually got a scarf because she refuses to pick a yarn. I think last year I mostly gave out gift certificates, and I mostly asked for and received gift certificates.

This year, we are going to skip it. We are going to make time to do something together, but we are not going to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what everyone else wants for Christmas. That should work out better for everybody.

Still, Christmas is one of those things that I look forward to all year. And now that I'm not exchanging gifts with half the people on my list, Christmas might seem a bit dull. I think it is best that I not spend money unnecessarily, and I should be doing other things with my time, but I do wonder if I'll have some extra seasonal depression or something if I don't have the distraction of Christmas gift giving.

There are four other people that I exchange gifts with every year, plus a couple of people that I get smaller things for, just in case, and cause I don't want them to feel left out. And then I get a couple of things for group gift exchanges, but those aren't quite the same as I have no idea who will actually end up getting those gifts. And then if I have time and money left, there's a charity thing that I try to participate in.

Of these four other people that I exchange gifts with, I wanted us all to have handmade matching scarves. I didn't have time to do five that year (especially since that year I also knitted a few things for my family), so I've been knitting one each year since then, and now there's only one person left without a scarf. So I'm wondering if maybe I should also see about canceling the gift exchange bit with them too. But I don't want to do it this year because I want that fourth friend to get his scarf, and I don't want to just give him a scarf and not get the others anything.

I don't really want to cancel everything I do for Christmas, cause that would just really be boring. But I do want to get to a point where my life isn't so much about material things, and I'd rather not do things where I'm just expected to spend money. Last year I would go out with my friends at least twice a month, which was almost always at a restaurant. I should not be going to a lot of restaurants because a.) I should be on a diet, and b.) I shouldn't spend the money. Even if I buy something totally reasonable, I spend at least ten dollars every time we go out, and then sometimes there's other stuff to go to, or movies to see. I don't like going to watch movies with the group. It is usually a movie that I've already seen, or else a movie I had little interest in to begin with, and they don't go before 6pm and they don't go to my cheap theater.

I know that all this going out with my friends only adds up to about three hundred dollars a year, and my husband probably spends that much in a month, but I still think that at some point I'm going to have to get serious about the money problems and the eating out will have to stop, and most of the hanging out with my friends will probably have to stop to.

But maybe not this year.

1 comment:

dmarks said...

Hopefully, there will be enough holiday spirit left in order to put up and decorate a Christmas Triffid.