A Muted Christmas

Tuesday, December 27, 2005
I didn't have much of a Christmas this year. My girlfriend got me a gift but that was about it. I gave gifts to a few people but otherwise, I didn't really give gifts out this year only because I find it is a big hassle. I usually give gifts because other people are getting me a gift and out of a sense of guilt, I do it too. Other people tell me its the thing to do this holiday season so I have always begrudgingly done it so that I don't look like some sort of Scrooge. I believe in giving gifts to those who are close to you like my family and my girlfriend. I even believe in giving gifts to the people who work for me because its important to show you appreciate all their hard work during the year. But this year, I have no one left reporting to me, so that part of it was easy.

But in the end, if I'm honest with myself, I find that I wish people wouldn't get me a gift so that I wouldn't have to get them a gift. It's not that I'm cheap, it's just I find it to be extremely stressful during the holidays to try and get gifts for everyone. I hate crowded malls and I hate spending hours trying to come up with the right gifts for everyone. When you add that to all the other stress that comes around this time of year it can be overwhelming.

So this year I decided to do myself and others a favor. No gifts. This helps me out because I don't have to worry about shopping, and I hope it has helped my friends out by letting them do the same for me. It probably has helped them more than me since I'm told I'm notoriously difficult to shop for.

The funny thing is, I'm not alone this year. It seems to me that most of my friends also didn't do much gift-giving this year. For one reason or another, most of my friends couldn't give gifts this year. This is probably a bad thing because many are just facing financial difficulties. I'm not sure if this is an epidemic or what but I certainly hope it is not. Anecdotally, you can probably chalk this up to increased energy bills, sky-rocketing home prices, etc. But I'm curious, what are other people seeing this year? Was your gift-giving or gift-receiving impacted this year and if so why?


susan said...

As you know from my blog, I did that same. And I'm completely happy with that decision. No time trying to come up with something, anything to give to people who are coming up with something, anything to give me just because we are supposed to. And therefore, no worrying about the appropriateness of the gift, no returns of unwanted gifts, no storage of things I just don't need. I will never go back! Which is not to say I don't like getting the perfect gift for someone at the perfect time.. or receiving the perfect gift at the perfect time.

Anonymous said...

How could you be hard to shop for? I don't even know you, yet I'd know what to get you if I were giving you a gift: Expensive jeans or a gift certificate to an expensive jeans store, or the collected writings of Milton Friedman.

Jenny said...

I gave gifts only to family this year (plus Carrie) because I simply cannot afford to give gifts otherwise. Some friends got me gifts, but mostly I did not receive gifts from friends probably because they knew that I wouldn't be able to get them anything.

I think the message of giving to others is good, but it has been confounded by insisting that what you give has to be expensive and has to be perfect.