Monday, November 30, 2009

Sometimes, Change is Good

Last Christmas was the first year that I didn't go completely overboard and charge things I regretted as soon as the credit card statements January rolled in. The surest way to make sure I didn't hate myself in the new year, was to pay cash for every purchase. Our family really scaled back on the retail end of things and enjoyed ourselves just as much, probably more.

This year, my siblings and our families have agreed not to exchange gifts. None of us needs anything, and all of us are a little tired of this holiday over-merchandising, so this is perfect. For a couple of siblings, I already had some gifts in the works, but no mind, they'll make perfect birthday gifts. I'll still get some gifts for my immediate family, but it won't be the free for all that I've tended to get sucked into in the past.

I'm enjoying this new practice when it comes to gift giving. I do have some die hard friends who love exchanging small gifts, so I'll continue this, but the rest of it is a relief to let go. And I'm quite sure, I'll be buying more chickens and roosters for my friend's CSA outreach program in Nicaragua. I wondered about the family who got the chickens last year. Did they have eggs to eat and sell? Did the chickens survive? Is that family's life better? It warms my heart to think something so small--the cost of one or two unwanted gifts here--would make a huge difference to someone in need.

So to all those big retailers out there, I'm sorry, but I won't be partaking in this annual mad rush to buy goods I don't want or need. My digits won't be in your final tally on the last, or any other Friday. To local retailers, I promise to shop in your stores this season to purchase the things I think the small group of people I do exchange gifts with will enjoy. I'm going to practice 3/50 mindfulness when I head out the door with my recycled shopping bags.

Lucky for me, you're all in walking distance.

How about you? How will you lighten your burdens this holiday season?

21 comments:

Rose said...

How great you must feel. Have you ever read the book Unplugging the Christmas Tree (or maybe it's Machine?)? It's a book I read about 20 years ago that influenced me in a positive way, although I find I've been slipping lately. Thanks for the reminder. Oh and by the way, what's wrong with Nyquil? I saw your comment at Laurie's.

sapphireblue said...

We're just buying for our daughter this year. Hubby is laid off, so if anyone doesn't like it, so what. There's no way I'm going into debt over Christmas.

clairedulalune said...

Christmas just seems like too much each year, guilty about this and that, money and how to get for everyone, it nearly cracks me up! You did the best thing! I must go a book a hair appointment, the gray hairs are shining through with the thought of it all! Well done!
I laughed at that line from the film in your last comment, I must go rent that film! LOVE Vince Vaughn!

Brenda said...

I soured many years ago on gift giving overload. A plus about ageing for us is that there are so few things we want or need. And the holidays fly by so fast, I never have time to do much. They seen to be over before they begin, if you know what I mean.

SkippyMom said...

We have never used credit for the holidays - I saw too many of my friends just hit hard in January and I didn't want to go overboard - so cash it is.

willowtree said...

About 5 years ago, my wife an I decided that the gift we would give each other was not to give gifts to each other. It worked so well, we've done it every year since.

Stephanie V said...

It must be an age thing...or maybe that plus the times. We've been coming to your conclusion and are taking the giftless (mostly) plunge this year. I did appreciate my adventure with kiva.com and would do that again - just for me. I, too, wonder how the chickens we gave one of the granddaughters fared. Funny, we were just talking about that this morning.

Gail said...

Thrift stores! Gently used, lovingly chosen, perfect gifts for immediate family...that's it.

Queenmothermamaw said...

All handmade or painted by me, for the grandchildren. I am just happy to have them all around. I drove by the bank the other day and there was a sign "Christmas Loans," 5.6% rate. What? I can't believe it. Who ever heard of taking out a loan for Christmas.
QMM

laurie said...

what a sensible family. my family won't agree to that.

Rositta said...

Haven't done serious gift giving since three years. Just some necessities like slippers and socks. I'm pretty much a non consumer anyway, well except for wool. I've done the chicken and goat thing too for a couple of friends who insist on the gift thing...ciao

Jadekitty said...

My family has never been traditional about Christmas so thankfully I don't have to worry about gifts and what not's. But I find the pressure from other people is huge and they just can't figure out why we don't do presents.
That link to 3/50 was very intriguing and well done. Thanks!

jeannette stgermain said...

Some years ago I started scaling back with "things"-presents, because I came to the conclusion that having a good time with my family is more important - so that means more days off to spend away from home and do things with the grand kids- (meaning more days taking off of work).
That was a good thing, because this year I would be forced to do it, but I was glad i was one step ahead.

NCmountainwoman said...

We stopped exchanging among siblings several years ago. We are scattered all over the country, so we have no idea what gift is appropriate. It took a load of Christmas stress off my mind.

Sandy said...

I started that last year, the adults don't exchange and the kids get the gifts. I tended to go overboard with the grandkids in the past but now I'm putting like a 50 dollar limit on each kid. That's because by next spring there will be seven.

I love what you did re the chickens for the family.

Renie Burghardt said...

Yep, we scaled down as well. I usually give books (with my stories in them, of course) to family and best friends. Do send some smaller gift cards to more needy friends out of town, and that's about it. My grown kids, on the other hand, treat me like their kid and shower me with gifts, like I used to do when they were young. I guess I'm very blessed.

Lola D said...

Awesome!

I wanted to thank you for the lovely comment about my jewelry! I love making it! I have way too many pieces and too many beads! LOL

Have an excellent holiday season!

jamilola AKA Lola D

Anonymous said...

Yes, the chickens are thriving, for the most part...there are always some mishaps .. but in general chickens are pretty easy to care for. The eggs have been used for improved family nutrition and a few to share or sell. Dominga, the recipient, is a good steward of resources and sharer of good insights, so all is well in the "gallinera" - chicken coop! Thanks, Ruth, for all you do for so many. Will be calling today to set up some 'together' time. Love and gratitude, your Nica friend.

Miss T said...

Very sensible!

Cheryl said...

We use to really overdo it on Christmas.....big time. Now that the girls are older and have all the big ticket items they want or need, we are scaling way back. Christie really wants us all to go to England next summer, so she has a huge jar, with change and dollars in it. I told them we couldn't do the trip, without cutting back. They were very happy with that. We also donated to a group that fixes cleft pallets. That is where most of our money went, where children truly needed it. We pick a different group each year and Grandmother Z. and all the Aunts and Uncles donate.
XXXXXXX

Winifred said...

Good idea Rudee. We cut back a few years ago and when I left work I cut back even more. It's different to when we were young and we got presents we loved and needed. Now people buy just for the sake of it.

Cutting back was great and not having to have nights out with different groups of friends and work colleagues. Now we keep it to an absolute minimum.
We now just buy for children and grandchildren but even that is quite expensive.
I keep trying to persuade my children not to bother and just let me buy for the grandchildren but so far I haven't I succeeded. Maybe next year.

It's sad that it becomes a burden and because we don't have the time we can't enjoy Christmas as we used to.