In these economic times, I have been asking friends how they are handling the holidays. No matter what they are doing, the resounding refrain is "Christmas is for Kids." and, in some cases, "Hanukkah is for Kids."
My friend Irma (24 years old) is one of 7 children. Her husband Brian (28) is one of 5 children. This year both of their families have decided not to buy any Christmas gifts, but to instead enjoy the time they will be spending together. Some of them protested because they had already seen things that they had a strong desire to purchase for certain people in their family. The solution: If you happen to come across something that really reminds you of someone that you have an overwhelming desire to give to them, buy it BUT don't go out seeking gifts AND just because you buy for one does not mean you have to buy for everyone.
My friend Tanya (27) is the oldest of 7 children and a nephew who is 3 and her husband Greg (28) is the middle of 3 grown children and has one niece who is 4. This year they have made an agreement with Greg's family that they give each other the gift of their time and attention, but all are allowed to purchase for the 4 year old if they are willing and able. Tanya's family has not given over to that idea, maybe in part because 4 of the 7 children are still under 18.
My husband and I made some changes this year, too. We sent out nearly 50 holiday cards, but purchased gifts for just 22 people. Of the 22, 8 are children. Of the 22, 16 are blood relatives. Of the 22, 3 are pets. We did not spend more than $30 per person/pet and in many cases spent $20 or less, in some cases $10 or less, in a few cases $5 or less. We did this by being savvy shoppers. As is tradition for us, we are simply putting stockings together for each other and stocking items that are too big or oddly shaped for the stocking go under the tree. We considered leaving pets off the list this year, but we love them far too much. Our pets give us unconditional love always, the least we can do is throw them a bone or some kitty treats at Christmas. Total expenditures: $298.87 which averages out to $13.58 per person/pet. I am not laying the numbers out there because I think how much you spend is important, just the opposite. I am laying the numbers out there to show that if you shop savvy and stay within your own pre-set budget, anything is possible. Also, simply sending a card to show the people in your life that you care and you appreciate them is a real gift in its self. We have had many phone calls from people thanking us for the cards and wanting to be in closer touch with each other and scheduling times to get together. Acknowledgment and time, invaluable gifts to be freely given, seem to be valued above all.
In every case above, there are two themes:
1) The holidays are for the children. Make it as fun for them as possible.
2) Time together is the most valuable gift one can give.
Combine these two gifts:
If you have the means to donate gifts or time to volunteer this holiday season, please consider giving to these worthy causes:
Toys for Tots
Children for Children
Perkins School for the Blind
My Two Front Teeth
or another that is dear to your heart.