I will insert a disclaimer here: Christmas is the holiday we celebrate. Other folks and other cultures celebrate the end of the year in different ways. But, giving gifts is part of many traditions. So, if you don't celebrate Christmas, the following may still resonate with you.
I wonder if this is a common debate. Do other families have the same "discussion" every year about the need, or appropriateness of gifts for the grown ups? The arguments are always the same. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus.It is also a time for family, friends, food, and togetherness. Society has turned it into a frenzy of consumption that we don't want to support.
Or, this is a time when we get to surprise loved ones with gifts that we hope will bring a smile to their face. To give can be even more fun than to receive, but all of us have something that we'd like to find under the tree. It is part of our tradition and good for the kids to see their parents and grandparents getting gifts.
Of course, the amount of money spent on all the gifts seems to increase every year, regardless of what we do to stay within a budget. Sometimes there is a new grandchild. Sometimes a relative or good friend has added a child, husband, or wife to their family and we would like to make them happy. Our extended family seems to "extend" more each year, meaning more presents.
With the economy the way it is, all of these purchases can add up quickly. With all family members on a tight budget, the purchase of presents for everyone can become a real obstacle. Even making gifts has a definite cost: time. With three children under 5, free time is something one of my daughters is seriously lacking when she has tried to make all the presents for everyone.
Beside the cost, the debate seems to be about keeping the focus on the youngsters. They are the ones who are absolutely thrilled by the promise and reality of Christmas morning. They are relatively easy to buy for and easy to please.
At least in our family, adults are much more difficult to buy for. "Practical" usually wins out. That often means sweaters or needed clothing. It often means each grown up is asked what he or she needs/wants within the limits of the budget, so true surprises are rare. The gifts usually is what we'd buy for ourselves at some point in the year anyway.
So, every year we bring out the same arguments and have the same debate: presents for adults, or just the children? I'm happy to report that this year we may have had a break through. There seems to be universal agreement that adults don't need to receive a few gifts Christmas morning. Instead, there are plans afoot for a grand experience: the parents, our youngest daughter, grandparents, and the three grandkids to spend 3 nights up north in the snow in a rented house. The real thrill for the kids will be a nighttime train trip on "The Polar Express" complete with hot chocolate and snowball fights.
|John Robinson's ESL Five blog|
Tradition is a powerful force. I know. It has taken us many years for us to try something different. What about your family? Do adults still participate in all the unwrapping and gift-giving, or is everything under your tree just for the junior set? I'd love to know if we are with the majority on this, or breaking new, uncharted territory on a choo-choo train.
|Don't tell the grand kids...it's a surprise!|
Exciting news: Betty and I will be featured in a national magazine in October. The story will be about folks who despite all the bad economic times are still enjoying a satisfying retirement. More details shortly.