Complaints · Family · Parenting

Tis the Season for Stress

All I want for Christmas is time with those I love without the pressure and obligation of gifts.

Holidays. Business. Marketing. Things. Expectations. Pressure.

Don’t get me wrong, I love giving people gifts. It makes me feel good to see them smile. However, when it is expected all of the joy of giving is lost. I would much rather buy someone a gift when I see something that they would love – without an occasion.

This is something I feel strongly about, specifically for adults. It does not mean that I do not care about someone or appreciate all they do; it just means that we are all grown-ups and quality time is more important than material goods. An obligatory gift does not mean much.

Every year when December rolls around I  get frustrated and stressed. We have a large family – all of whom I love. However, it is not financially possible to get each person a gift. Thankfully most of these lovely people have decided that only children under 18 will receive a gift. This is so nice! I appreciate being able to spend time with those I love only worrying about a dish to pass and being present to enjoy their company. The part of the family that is not on board, yet, doesn’t fully realize the stress it causes to feel obligated to exchange gifts. It is not only a financial stress or burden, but an emotional one. It really puts us in a hard position because we are stretched thin or overextended this time of the year. When we give in and exchange this mandated gift not only is it less enjoyable, but there are feelings of irritation and resentment about the situation. If we stick to our guns and do not exchange any gifts, the guilt trip we are given is ridiculous and unfair.

I do not expect gifts. I am more than okay with not receiving gifts. All I want is quality time. That being said – IF – you really love to give gifts. That is fine, give away. However, do not expect anything in return. Do not make comments or make people feel bad for not getting you something. You are choosing to purchase a gift because it makes YOU happy to give it, not because you will be receiving a gift. Your feelings should not be hurt if you don’t get something from someone you chose to give a gift to.

We should just enjoy each other. The time we can spend relaxing and socializing, making memories is SOOOO much more important. I value people way more than things. The people I want to spend the holidays with will not be here forever. I will not remember the book, slippers or trinket years from now like I will the stories and laughs we shared while together. Memories are your legacy.

This line of thought is something I am trying to instill in our daughter. People are not replaceable and we should spend time with them while we can. Things will be replaced, lost or forgotten. How someone treats you is what shows their love for you, not what ‘things’ hey give you. Someone can spend hundreds of dollars on you and treat you like crap. That is not love. That is not what I want her to think is okay. Love is shown through actions.

For the last few years we have been doing the Four Gift Christmas for our daughter. This is quite literally 4 gifts. They fall into these categories:

  • Something to wear
  • Something to read
  • Something you want
  • Something you need

This has made our Christmases more special. She is able to open her gifts, enjoy them and recognize that we are focusing on celebrating family with a few tangible items. We also talk about how we are in a position to purchase things throughout the year when needed. For example if she outgrows her shoes, she does not have to wait until Christmas for new ones. The same goes for pants, books or anything else.

We also have her pick out one small gift for each parent so she can give something (which she enjoys). Then Santa brings a small gift for her and trinkets or candy in our stockings. The way Santa gives his gifts are also important to us. Santa brings one gift and fills the stockings for two reasons: First – we want her to recognize how hard we work to give her gifts so that it can be appreciated, Second – we want to make sure that Santa doesn’t appear to love one child more than any other. Since each household has a different income some children may not recognize yet, that their parents or guardians are Santa and that they are receiving more or less due to their household income, not their behavior or love from Santa. When they are talking about what Santa brought them this year the differences are noticable. This may appear that I am over thinking it, but after spending a lot of time with children from various economic statuses who are friends – they recognize that it is not even close to equal. Not that life is fair or equal ever, because it is not, but if they are being subjected to a fantasy it should be rosy (at least for a little while).

Well this is the end of my passionate rant. I hope you are able to think about my perspective on gift giving. Even if it is not for you please keep in mind that someone you may know could be in the same position where they can’t or shouldn’t exchange gifts, but are having a hard time advocating for themselves or their family. Please keep an open mind and enjoy those you love this holiday season!


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