We will be celebrating Christmas a little differently this year. The tree will go up as usual. As will the garlands, the little figurines, and all of the other festive knick knacks. We will play Christmas music 24-7 (Ok, I will do that). And, we will bake cookies till they fill every inch of countertop.
But this year, my husband and I will not be exchanging gifts.
Now, let me stop you right here and tell you that I am in no way, shape or form opposed to gift giving and especially, gift receiving. I love presents. I love shopping for others just as much as I do for myself. And gift giving/receiving is one of the simple joys from which I derive so much pleasure.
In fact, when my husband and I first got together, I told him that he needed to know something critically important about me – I loved presents. And I valued quanity, over quality. Don’t just show up with one big gift for my birthday. Show up with 15 little gifts, each individually wrapped. Oh, and a card. Don’t forget the card. (What is it with guys being so opposed to buying greeting cards? Geesh.)
That was over 10 years ago and I feel exactly the same way now about presents as I did then.
However, my love for gift giving and receiving pales in comparison to something else…
This year has been great: full of changes, new endeavors and non-stop twists and turns. I’ve become a full-time stay at home mom, Mike took on a Master’s program and our growing sons are eating us out of house and home.
It’s amazing. It’s exciting. But it’s expensive.
In order to put presents under the tree for ourselves this year we would have to forgo some other, more important things. We wouldn’t be able to open up our home to our friends and family. We wouldn’t be able to host holiday gatherings. We wouldn’t be able to give back to the people nearest and dearest to us who have made this past year so special. And that, is just not worth it.
I don’t want to fill my home with stuff this Christmas, I want to fill it with people.
So yeah, the hubs and I are going to pass on buying each other gifts. We will still buy presents for our little boys, but even then the amount we spend on them will be very, very low. The gifts will be simple. I want to get them things that are fun and childlike like christmas candy and finger paint. I want to embrace this time in their lives when they still marvel over simple pleasures.
For our extended family, I have gifts tucked away that I’ve picked up throughout the year. I did that knowing that we couldn’t buy our gifts for others all at once. They too are simple, but from the heart.
Now, I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to share this with my readers. For so many reasons.
1. It’s a little embarrassing.
2. Our decision was based on our personal situation and not a judgment on others. I really don’t want others to read this as a criticism of Christmas and gift giving, or as a commentary on consumerism. Trust me, our reasoning was far more economical and way less philosophical.
3. I know my family reads this blog.
Ultimately, I decided to share this post because the decision to do Christmas a little different this year, although rooted in some personal struggle, has brought about so much freedom and excitement. I’m excited to focus on something other than gifts this season.I’m excited to focus more time and energy on the other festive activities of the season. And I’m excited to be free from an expectation that was starting to feel oppressive.
This Christmas, we plan to spend most of our time doing the things that truly make the season so special. We are going to bake, decorate and entertain our tails off. I can’t wait.