We aren't doing Christmas gifts this year and I refuse to feel guilty about it. In fact, I feel liberated. Our anti-Christmas gift stance actually arose for a variety of reasons.
First of all, last year was a super expensive pain in our butts. We tried to be very reasonable. We did. We set a budget of around $25-$40 a person. But between my family, Adam's family, and a few of our closest friends, we easily exceeded the $500 without blinking an eye. And that didn't even include gifts for each other! Because costs added up so fast, I found myself constantly worried about expenses. Sure, we could load $300 worth of gifts in the car but we might not be able to afford gas for the trip to visit the people who they belong too. So basically, it was just too much money. That's the reason that nearly everyone (who doesn't have limitless funds) can relate to.
Second, gifts had gotten too competitive. Instead of feeling great about picking up a great gift that really reminded me of someone, I was worried about the gift being either too big or too small. Family members were constantly calling to ask what "else" we wanted because they had exceeded a budget for one person meaning that in turn, our own budget was going to increased out of guilt. (What?!) Gift exchanges became a type of competition for who could give the gift that would get the best reception. And of course, when a gift didn't get that a warm reception or if there weren't enough "ooohs" and "ahhhs", suddenly, feelings were hurt. So basically, it was just too many hurt feelings waiting to happen.
Third, gifts had really lost the meaning of the season. To me, Christmas will always be, in part, about childlike innocence. I can vividly recall insisting I saw Santa's sleigh fly over our house. I remember waking up early and running outside to see if Santa's reindeer had eaten the "reindeer food" my third grade teacher handed out. (It was birdseed fyi. In case you were curious.)I fondly recall baking cookies to set out for Santa and willing myself to fall asleep so that all the magic could begin. Those Christmas memories are golden. But as of late, Christmas became 8+ adults sitting around a room opening gifts in turn. There were no special baked cookies for Santa, no reindeer food, and no sleigh sightings. Without the gift of seeing Christmas through a child's eyes, it seemed silly to sit around and exchange gift cards of equal value. So basically, without a sense of childlike wonderment, Christmas gifts just fell flat for me.
Finally, Adam graduates this December with his PhD. While I'm over the moon excited for him, it also means that his job at the university is over. Soon, Adam will be on the hunt for something else to keep him busy from 8-5 and provide income for our family. With so many unknown factors, it didn't seem practical to spend a lot of time and effort on gift giving. So basically, we had bigger fish to fry and gifting just didn't make the cut.
I have to say, as sad as it was to break the news to our families that we weren't doing gifts this year, I feel so good about our decision. Adam and I are going to be able to stick money back into our savings account in December to help prepare for the unknown future after his graduation. We also don't have to fight crowds and lines or stress over budgets and lists. I'm looking forward to a Christmas holiday spent, as I think they should be -- focused on what really matters. What really matters to us, isn't gifts under the treat or stuffed stockings. For us, what matters is time with people that we love, creating memories and laughs that carry us through darker times.
So this year, Adam and I will watch Christmas movies, sing Christmas carols, eat way too much delicious food, and sip hot beverages in front of fireplaces with those we love. But we'll do all of it without gifts under our tree. And you know, that doesn't bother me one little bit.
Would you ever consider a giftless Christmas?