all i want for christmas Anya's two front teeth. Seriously, folks, she's cranky and clingy and I think those little boogers are the culprit.

It seems like every year we sing the same old song about Christmas being too commercialized. There's too much stuff: too much sugar, too many tacky lights, too many inflatable Santas (those are particularly perplexing to me - in fact, at the hardware store I saw an inflatable globe with a snowman and fake snow inside, like we need fake snow up here), too much Bing Crosby, too many junky decorations and fake greenery, too many presents. We (at least, I) complain about the commercialism and materialism every year and then go out and spend more money than we (I) ought on presents anyway. The current economic situation makes it easier to scale back without looking like a scrooge, but I'm sure I'll still ask myself the same old questions: "Did I spend enough? Did I spend too much?," even when I know that's not really what it's all about.

The fact is, presents are fun. I'd be lying if I said I didn't really enjoy the getting as well as the giving, but I think I like the latter a little better. (Of course, it can be stressful if you have absolutely NO IDEA what the recipient wants or needs. Ahem, Joe, I could use a hint here. Any kind of a clue would be most appreciated.) I don't think the gift-giving part of Christmas is all materialistic, either. Or if it is, it's not all bad. Choosing a gift for someone important to you is a significant gesture because, assuming it's done right, you spend a certain amount of time, thought and often (but not always) money to do it. That means something, right? To that end, I would like to hand-craft (this usually means knitting) all of my Christmas gifts, but I have neither the time nor the energy, so every year I pick a couple people to knit for and that's that.

It's hard not to overdo it for the kids, though. I've seen about a million things I think Daniel and Anya would like - even things that I could stand to have around - but our house is very small and crowded as it is. They don't play with many toys anyway. Daniel spends a lot of time playing with suds in the sink, cutting paper, scribbling pictures, rolling out play dough and sifting flour. Of his actual toys, he's probably gotten the most play out of his train set. Anya just wants to play with whatever Daniel's playing with and as a result, we've gotten a good start on sibling rivalry. So I've managed to keep their gifts modest, knowing we don't have much extra space for stuff that may or may not get played with anyway. It's hard to go wrong with books and PJs, maybe some art supplies for Daniel (and yes, a couple new toys.)

So what do I want for Christmas? Good question! I could use a few mundane things, such as a pair of snow boots (How have I lived in Wisconsin for over eight years without getting a pair of those?) and a new iron, but that's awfully boring. I'm probably better off choosing that myself, actually. There's nothing I need, really. What I really want is some time to myself -and I don't mean an hour so I can go to the grocery store alone, I mean like a whole day - but that's not a gift so much as self-preservation. (I don't know what I'd do with a whole day to myself anyway. Probably clean the house and, sigh, go to the grocery store. That's how boring I've become.) I suppose the noble thing would be to ask people to give to charity in my name...but I already give to charity and I think other people should give to charity regardless. I'm not that noble, evidently.

What's strange, even a little annoying, is that this year, despite all my intentions of not getting caught in the over-materialistic aspects of the holidays, I feel like I'm awfully pre-occupied with gift shopping. That's partly because I'm doing nearly all of the shopping for our family (Stuart's responsible for whatever he's getting for me and for the name he drew for the family get-together on his side, but I'm doing the rest), and partly because I try to be conscientious about where I'm putting my dollars. I feel lucky that we can afford Christmas presents. I'm making a couple of things, and as long as I'm buying the rest, I might as well buy locally and/or fair trade if possible. That's more effort than ordering everything from Amazon, but worth it. It's also hardly a new concept for me and lots of other people, so I won't elaborate further on that here.

What about you? How are you handling holiday shopping this year?


Strangeite said…
Since I have two children, one of which is not here on Christmas morning, it meant that we had to give more thought to how to handle present opening. To make a long story short, no presents are going to be opened on Christmas Day. We are developing new traditions that have nothing to do with anything that is seen on a commercial.

As for shopping, that has been cut back significantly this year but the kids understand this is because the money has been spent on our trip to Disney in January. What really bugs me is the shopping and gift giving for everyone else. It seems like I am expected to give a gift to (i) each of my co-workers, (ii) the neighbors, (iii) workers at the day-care, (iv) etc. etc. etc.
Every year I get more and more frustrated with the "buying" side of Christmas. One of these years I will just snap and buy a truckload of coal to hand out.
Animal said…
Shopping for us this year is mostly focused on The Rozzle. She DOES like her toys, but once she masters one she seems to discard it and then needs other time-occupiers. She gets new books almost weekly, so we had to think carefully about how to buy toys that would last long...AND hold her interest! We mostly got her stuff from HearthSong and a couple of other (high-end) catalogs, and I've - I mean Santa! - is getting her some vintage Fisher-Price Little People for her stocking.

Neither Tess nor I have much interest in gifts this year. It's as you say: no time for ourselves, really. I tell her that most of what I "want" (as opposed to need) can be found in my Amazon Wishlist, so that's all good by me. We're also about the only people who get gifts for my mom, so I tend to splurge in that regard since she does so much for US throughout the year.

Stuben: here's a great idea. Put together a "coupon booklet" for Suze. You can handmake such things as "2 hours to go out to lunch," or "Take a weekend to go see friends." Then, she can turn them in to you whenever she needs that adult-time break. Just sayin'.

Popular Posts