Now that Halloween is behind us and November has started, I feel like I'm staring straight down the barrel of the holiday season. I love Thanksgiving and I love Christmas, but they can also be stressful. I've also already started feeling sad because those holidays, especially Christmas, used to mean a lot of spousal love and togetherness--things that I don't have anymore. I was in the storage room tonight getting something and I noticed the wrapping paper, and I realized that I'll be wrapping the kids' presents alone this year. Maybe I should buy blue wrapping paper in honor of the occasion.

Christmas every year always brings up mixed feelings for me when it comes to gifts. I've always struggled with buying good gifts for people, and I always struggle with the fact that I feel like a grinch when I realize that we don't need anything. I know gifts are not about need, but it feels silly to ask for anything when we have so much. I look around at the cupboard overflowing with art supplies, the closet full of games and puzzles, the bookshelves in the basement that are usually passed over in favor of new offerings from the library, the overflowing bins of stuffed animals and dress-up clothes, the drawers full of Barbies that S-Boogie never plays with. Every year we try and give the kids something new and exciting and it seems like a crapshoot because most of the time it ends up being something that will be played with for a day and tossed aside. We have some toys that are still loved and cherished after 7 years, and yet we also have large amounts of stuff.

And yet, even though gift giving is not my love language, I know it is for some people. For S-Boogie's first birthday we tried asking people to bring food for the party instead of presents. We ended up with a bunch of toys and no food. Some people really like buying things for other people (it tends to give me panic attacks). I know the kids like to receive gifts from people, even if they are the type of cheap things that break after an hour. Gifts are a way to show people that we love them, and as much as the materialism makes me feel ill, I know that Christmas morning without any presents would just be wrong.

I guess I just don't know what to do. I hope my kids can see that they really have an abundant life. There are things we would like to have, but in general we are comfortable and have the things we need. As I do every year I hope we can make this Christmas about being together with our family and doing things for other people, not just about buying each other stuff.


Gina said…
I am so with you about presents. Buying presents is just so unpleasant to me. Not only because I have a stingy side, but because we have SO MUCH STUFF and why am I buying my kids more stuff?!?! But as you say, Christmas morning without presents to open for a kid would really stink. I'm anticipating my kids getting old enough that we can give gifts of experiences - lessons, trips, concerts, etc - and they will feel like they "count" as gifts. I will be a lot more excited about that. It is a huge blessing that neither Nephi nor I are present people. We get each other a candy bar for our birthday or anniversary, and both of us are totally good with that. If either of us had a gift love language, we'd be in serious trouble.
Jenny said…
My kids do a huge toy purge before birthdays and Christmas and I think it helps a ton. Since we live in a tight space I like giving the gift of experiences, like passes to a museum or winter swimming lessons or a train ride or something like that. A friend of mine does a vacation instead of gifts, even a cheaper in state one some years.

Another thing that we have done with the kids as my parents have done with us as kids was to provide Christmas for someone else on whatever scale is manageable, or with another family.

Also, I have decided friends should get together and wrap gifts because it would be tons more fun and there would be a lot more wrapping paper choices instead of my massive roll from Costco that lasts several Christmases.
I don't know logistically how that would even work, but it sounds nice.
Kristi said…
One of my friends does a fabulous job of teaching her three girls how to share with the needy. They've put together Christmas baskets for the troops overseas, they've done sub for santa and had the kids pick things out, and other similar things. Their kids get 2 gifts each and then they give the rest of the money they would spend on Christmas to others in some way. Kind of neat, I think.

And Jenny, the friends wrapping presents party sounds like a winner to me.
Rachael said…
I have the same internal struggles every year. We truly don't need anything, and I hate the mindless buying. We have started doing a new thing the last few years that has made me feel better. The girls each get something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. And then, of course, Santa gifts. They write their Christmas lists accordingly. I also really like the "experiences" gifts like museum passes, etc. I love Christmas, but the gift giving really does stress me out.
Julie said…
A couple of years ago we told the kids that one of their "presents" would go to someone in need and then we let them pick what the money went towards. We gave them information about Heifer International, different programs the church's humanitarian program has, and the red cross. They bought chicks, sheep, gave money to the church's nicu program, etc. They still got some presents but also got to be involved in helping others. Last year Jonathan bought a water buffalo and sent all his family a card saying that in their honor for Christmas he had donated a water buffalo to someone in need.

I'm so with you about not buying more STUFF!!! And it's the same with my kids where at least 90% of what we buy them isn't played with for very long, especially with my boys.

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