Being in a family that doesn’t give gifts for Christmas
My family doesn’t exchange gifts for Christmas. It probably makes sense to note that we don’t actually celebrate Christmas in the religious sense, but it’s become so Americanized that most people participate in the gift exchange whether or not they celebrate the holiday for religious reasons.
I remember going to the malls on Black Friday and buying a bunch of stuff and the cashier asked who the stuff was for — I replied myself. They held back a look of surprise because people shop for Black Friday deals for other people, not themselves.
There’s usually an offhand comment from people about getting Christmas shopping done early, which I normally respond with a nod and a smile without much commentary.
My coworkers were talking about how hard it is to Christmas shop for people and the stress around wondering what to get them and then wrapping the gifts and such. I got called lucky when I told them that my family doesn’t give gifts.
I don’t refute that statement at all because I’ve never had to worry about last minute Christmas shopping or consulting several family members about what so-and-so wants, but there’s something nice about giving and receiving gifts rather than just getting a hundred dollar bill.
Even though we don’t celebrate Christmas, my parents still give me money as a gift. You can’t argue that money isn’t the more practical route because you can use it to pay off debt, buy groceries, put it in a savings account, (I promise I’m not that boring.) but it’s definitely not as fun because it’s just tucked in some small envelope masking any element of surprise. You can argue there’s not as much thought in giving money as a gift card, even though you can argue they’re basically the same thing, because with a gift card you have to actually think about where the person shops. Cash feels impersonal at times. Not like my family sees it that way though because they only see the practicality of it.
My parents tell me not to get them anything because they think whatever I would get them would be a waste of money. They have enough clothes stacked in their closet that they never wear and they’re not tech savvy enough to warrant the latest Apple Watch. I talked about getting my dad a new computer so he can watch shows on a bigger screen, but he was content with watching it on a tablet. When I was in elementary school, there would always be this Santa Shop for kids to come in and buy little trinkets. I loved it; I bought my parents a small fake Christmas potted plant and a Christmas tree shaped tealight candle holder. I don’t think they were too impressed. There’s never really been a list of things they want.
In reverse, there’s a ton of things that I want, but I’m sure they are unaware of what to get me. It dawns upon me that gift giving is very personal, and you may not even know what to get the people who are the closest to you. It’s not that you don’t know them, but it’s because there are segments of ourselves that we advertise.
I feel like gift giving is about buying things for someone that they want, but they wouldn’t necessarily buy themselves. If that’s the case, then do they really NEED that gift if they’re not willing to buy it for themselves? I wonder about the value of gift giving if you’re picking off of an Amazon list or asking the person directly about what they want. It ruins the whole thing in my opinion. Maybe we’re looking at gift giving all wrong, and we should be exchanging money instead. No fuss, no hassle, no stress.
It’s not like I’ve never had the experience of unwrapping gifts before. When I was younger, we had a family friend who believed in gift giving and putting together a typical Christmas morning. I remember the joy of opening presents and getting stuffed animals and cool toys. I miss that part of it. I don’t get surprised very much anymore, and gift giving shows that someone is thinking about you and tried to put some thought into it.
I don’t put any blame on my parents for not getting into the “Christmas spirit.” It’s a different world that they were raised in, which became the world I was raised in. I’ve just become practical about the holidays and know that I’ll won’t be having that traditional Christmas morning. I’ll take the cash any day though.