Christmas gift-giving tends to be a little stressful for me. My defence used to be that holidays shouldn’t be about gifts unless Santa Claus is involved. Those adopt-a-family gift drives at work? It sounds like a good idea, but I feel uneasy about requests for Xbox games or branded clothes.

I’m working on that, though. I do get a warm and fuzzy feeling when I’m surprised by a gift, and I’m coming to realize that gift-giving is a neat little way to build relationships.

I’d still prefer it to be spread out over the year, though.

When I come across something I think someone will enjoy, I can’t wait to give it to them. For example, I could have stashed the micro-fleece sheets somewhere in the house, waiting until Christmas to give them. I decided more days of warmth were better than more days of anticipation. (Okay, so that was also a self-serving gift, but you get the point. ;) )

In addition to my impatience, I find it difficult to think of things to give people. I don’t shop recreationally (easier to avoid temptations and practice frugality!), so good deals or interesting items seldom cross my radar. My parents and sisters can buy whatever they want.

I don’t really need anything, and I like saving up for experiences and tools. What I really want for Christmas: Shared time. Shared fun. Donations to philanthropic organizations. More people sharing what they know.

My middle sister and her fiance, on the other hand, have a real flair for gift-giving. They think about all the staff at the office and all the people they meet on trips, and they come up with wonderfully individual gifts for each.

Me, I’m glad that my middle sister and my mom sent me their wishlists. I don’t mind learning about gift-giving using training wheels. I’d like to get better at noticing people’s interests. I suspect that my gift-giving will involve horrible puns. I’m giving my eldest sister and her husband a gift for adventurous people who’ve been there, done that. I’m giving my dad a gift related to passion and energy.

I’d rather make things for people than buy people things, though. I’d rather give people jams and jellies, cakes and cookies, biscuits and bars. I want to learn how to sew organizers, make scarves, duct-tape wallets.

So we’ll see how this gift-giving thing works out. Has anyone deliberately tried learning this? Any thoughts?

  • mom

    The older I get, the simpler my wish list gets. What I want for Christmas (and New Year’s) does not require cash or credit card – just your presence. I just want to hear your stories, see your smiles, and get a hug from each of you – my husband, my three daughters and the men they love.

    It is not true that we (your sisters, your papa and I) can buy anything we want. Or, maybe that is true only in the sense that we don’t ask or wish for anything we can’t afford. :)

    I try to make things less complicated by telling family and friends what I would like to receive on Christmas or on my birthday- books, plants that need very little maintenance, letters, photos – nothing they have to search high and low for. But if I receive something not on my list – yaya gave me a shirt similar to what she wore that I complimented her for – I am really touched. Ching and Kathy each gave me a book – but more than the books – it’s how those books will lead me to do something for myself and my family. Kathy gave me Julia Child’s cookbook because our project together is to learn how to cook. And Ching gave me “The Wednesday Letters” which I hope will be my inspiration to write on a regular basis. I have asked you for Julia Cameron’s autobiography or any of her books. If you don’t have it, don’t hassle yourself – you can always mail it to me. Christmas is not just December 25 – it’s everyday of the year that we do something for others.

    Papa gave me a camera – sure, it’s an expensive gift – but a more valuable gift would be the time he would spend teaching me how to use it.

    Again – my advice is – don’t get stressed out over gifts. When my only wish is to have my family together on Christmas (or Christmas season), anything else is a bonus.

    Much love always,