I have fond memories of getting up at 3 a.m. with my parents and hitting the stores the day after Thanksgiving. We had a system. My mom and I would break up and do a round pass on each side of the store while my dad either stood in line for one of the coveted gifts, such as bike one year, or just went ahead and held a place in the checkout line. After we had scored our deals, we’d go out for breakfast. We made a great team.
I solemnly swear that I have never elbowed, tackled, wrestled, or otherwise forcibly snatched any item during my BF shopping. Seriously, I can’t think of anything that important. Those people are just deranged. Maybe, Wal-Mart should pass out Valium with their sale flyers. The police would back that 100%, I bet. Beats wearing riot gear and breaking up fights over the last Blu-ray player.
I skipped the whole shopping experience this year. With my mom gone, it’s just not the same. And you couldn’t pay my dad to stand in line now. Maybe one of my daughters will become my shopping partner one day, but for now they still like to sleep in. Actually, so do I.
We practice a culturally-restrained holiday, anyway. We do not spend a month’s salary or run up a mortgage-size credit card bill to get everyone everything they could possibly want and more. We steer away from fad gifts, so you won’t find me stalking the last Cabbage Patch doll or whatever the current hot gift is. Our children know Santa Claus is a game, not a real guy with serious cholesterol problems. We use stockings to gather several small, usually inexpensive, gifts together, but they’re not scared that someone got stuck in the chimney trying to hang them (we don’t even have a chimney now). We haven’t decorated much in a few years (for purely practical reasons), but we love to drive around looking at the gaudy lights others hang.
Our gift-giving usually is pretty practical.
- What do we need?
- What might be fun but usable for all of us?
- What would especially bless someone or make a special memory?
For the past few years, we have let each of the girls pick one gift to give to all. Trying to plan and buy four gifts from each of them for each of their sisters was enough to send me to the loony bin every year. This plan is much more manageable. Each girl thinks of something they would all enjoy doing together, such as going out for ice cream or watching a favorite movie. Then, she and I go buy it or get a gift card in the case of eating out. For several months after Christmas, we enjoy cashing in gift cards or watching a movie together or some other activity.
My husband and I have liked this policy so much that we’re thinking of expanding it this year to include a big family gift and a few smaller gifts. We’re pitching several ideas around, but we haven’t hit on the right one yet. Some of our thoughts have been a museum membership or season passes to a theme park. These have been outside our budget and too far away to be well used. We considered electronic games, but most people have told me that they end up being a source of contention between children. I don’t need another source of contention.
We are going camping for the weekend of Christmas, so the trip, itself, will be part of our gift. We might plan a few extra weekend trips during the spring, rather than buy anything big. That seems like more, prolonged fun. I’m just afraid that we’ll plan a trip and never take it because our schedule won’t cooperate. It’s been known to happen.
Whatever we ultimately do, our goal is to build our family relationships and teach our children that family is more important than a new toy. Radical, I know.
What are your gift-giving plans?
P.S. Don’t forget to order your Christmas cards! I ordered mine this week. Tiny Prints has tons of great card layouts and does a fabulous job. Their Black Friday sale runs through Sunday, November 25, and offers 20% everything site-wide. Use promo code 20NOVSW. Easy shopping without the unnecessary roughness. Sweet!
P.S.S. I am an affiliate for Tiny Prints. If you buy from my link, I am compensated. I have to pay for Christmas, too, you know.