Holiday Gifts, Simplified

I remember a Christmas Eve many years ago.  I saved all my gift-wrapping and planned on staying up late and wrapping gifts while  hubby assembled a few “from Santa” presents and we both sipped hot cocoa.

I think I even threw a Duraflame into the fireplace.  What a romantic notion!!

But it didn’t really go the way I’d planned; we started about about 11pm and hubby was finished with his assembly, and was fast asleep on the couch, by midnight. I wrapped and wrapped and wrapped.  My back neck were KILLING me.  At 3am, I was only about half finished, and I was running out of tape!  Knowing that Wal-Mart had closed at midnight, I was at a loss.  I used smaller and smaller pieces of tape until there really was none left.  Luckily I’m fairly resourceful and figured out I could do a pretty good job with one of the kids’ glue sticks.  I finally had all the presents arranged around the tree, and the stockings filled, and Santa’s cookies devoured and milk drunk, and the wrapping paper scraps cleaned as the sun was coming up.  I staggered off to bed knowing that it wouldn’t be long before we’d be up opening presents.

I’d counted the gifts I wrapped.  There were 53 of them, just for the kids and hubby.  Back then, we only had two children.  And though I can’t remember specifically, I’m betting that we charged a lot of those gifts.

Sadly, we had a lot of Christmases with that kind of excess.  Often the kids would tire of unwrapping gifts (my mother often would give them more than a dozen gifts EACH) and they’d remain under the tree, still wrapped, until I would come along and open them so I could get things put away.  Years later, the kids had craft kits and science experiments and various toys and building kits still in sealed packages, lost in the recesses of their closets.

In 2005, I decided to begin simplifying our lives–every aspect of them.  We’d just experienced an interstate move and we had so much stuff that we filled up an entire vanliner that typically can move 2-3 households.  When Christmas came, space and funds were tight, so it made sense to cut back.  I fretted a lot over whether or not the kids would feel jilted or if giving them less would somehow diminish the meaning of Christmas, or the fun and festivities.  It didn’t.  They had as much fun as ever that year, and we got them a “big” joint gift (a Wii) and then did just a handful of gifts per child, plus stockings.

We’ve experimented with various types of limits…some years we’ve chosen a dollar amount per child and some years a numerical amount of gifts.  Some years I feel like I’ve gone overboard and others I worry I haven’t done enough, but then it all seems to even out.

<to be continued>






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