Wednesday, December 12, 2012

There's Nothing Under the Tree

Don't worry about us.  Don't call the charity elves to deliver boxes of canned goods and day-old bread.  This year we're not shopping.  The spouse and I had our usual pre-Christmas conversation:

Spouse:  What do you want for Christmas?

Me:  I don't know.  I don't need anything.  What do you want?

Spouse:  I don't know.  Whenever I want something, I just buy it.

Me:  Yeah, me too.

We decided that we weren't buying anything for each other.  I had a similar conversation with my daughter while we were visiting her in Texas at Thanksgiving.  She also said she didn't need more stuff and I told her we didn't need anything either. Today I sent her gift cards for Home Depot since she and her husband are working on installing hard wood flooring throughout their house.  Merry Christmas, Sarah, you can buy yourself big tubs of flooring adhesive for Christmas!

I told  my daughter I wanted more grandchildren for Christmas.  Unfortunately, that factory is closed.  I settled for negotiating to have the girls with us for a longer period next summer.  I did buy the grands a small gift to open, but like the rest of us, they don't need more stuff either. Santa will bring the girls a few toys, but their parents are giving them coupon books for experiences.  They can cash them in for things like a special outing, doing a craft project with Mom, or getting a pass on chores.

I can't think of a single thing that I want badly enough to venture into the malls.  The things I like about Christmas are not the materials things...unless I see something that I want, and then I'll just buy it! 

At the risk of being called a Grinch, one of my peeves is all of the toy drives during Christmas.  I was at the dollar store this week and the cashier was asking each customer if he/she wanted to purchase an item to "support our troops."  There was a huge box at the end of the counter filled with dollar store items that had been purchased.  Really?  Do our troops really want to receive crap from the dollar store?  What is the message we're sending?  "I support you enough to buy you this $1.00 plastic backscratcher."

There's a chain store in this area that collects shoes for foster kids and another that collects pajamas.  While I appreciate that their intent is to help the less fortunate, what are the chances that the right size and style is going to find its way to the right needy kid?  A lot of the collection effort seems to me to be about making it a feel good experience for the donors, not meeting the needs of kids.  Maybe I am a cynic, but if we want to help a needy family, we shouldn't be guessing about what we think they need.  We should give them gift cards to buy exactly what they want and need. 

Oh, bah humbug!   I started writing about how blessed I am to live an abundant life and I have deteriorated to Scrooge-like complaining.  I think I need to put on some Christmas music and get my Christmas spirit back.

Happy Holidays to all of you.     


  1. You put up a tree... that's more than I do! Seems we have a lot in common around Christmas, other than the tree.

  2. You write a lot of sense! Trouble is I love seeing all those mysterious packages under the tree! Maybe I should just wrap empty boxes and admire them as a decoration;-) Seriously, I do understand exactly what you say. I don't think a lot of cheap plastic junk is what our troops want to see either. So turn the music up, gather your loved ones near and enjoy the feast!

  3. Yes, yes, yes! DH and I had that conversation over 30 years ago and have stuck to it.:-) We also have a cash limit on what we spend on the family and it isn't a high one. Everyone I know is drowning in stuff. I know we need trade for the sake of the economy, but buying cheap plastic tat isn't the way to go. Happy Christmas and enjoy the music.

  4. The buck has to stop somewhere, and you are a good start!!! Great thoughts, we are a land of over abundance!!

  5. This year my husband and I decided not to exchange gifts but to get something that we want for our home. I have enough PJs and he has enough shirts and our closets are overflowing. We need nothing and if we did, we would get it ourselves. However, the grand kids love stuff, so I get it for them. It gives me joy to see the expression on their faces when they open a gift that they like. I don't always get it right though and that is when I wish I had gotten a gift card.

    I work at a community center that assists those who have fallen on hard times. Although, giving a gift of money is often preferred, there is nothing like a new toy to light up the face of a child.

  6. I am right there with you, buying what I want for myself when I want it, but I do enjoy buying presents for kids. So I buy little things and really good chocolate to give in gift baskets. I distributed them myself yesterday and it made me feel great! I also bought myself an Otterbox cover for my new iPhone, and I got it from Amazon for much less than I would have paid in the store. Who needs to get out there at the Mall any more? It's really crazy out there! :-)

  7. For the last many years our Christmas has consisted of gifts that fit in out stockings. Rather large stockings, but we gifted each other with toothpaste and soap, that kind of stuff. With the girls here, different story. The little one has accumulated one gift for everyone in her life and put them in "gift bags" of every salvaged description. Under our tree has been jam packed since it went up.

  8. We do not do the gift exchange either, but I do send a box of light-weight, wrapped gifts to the grandkids out of town. They love opening them, whatever they are - inexpensive things like stickers, crayons, chocolate, etc.

  9. We have a generic take-a-gift-or-steal-it with our kids at our annual family gathering, and we buy gift cards for our non-toddler grandchildren. Otherwise, we're happy to spend the money on travel at other times of the year.

    I do remember with fondness and nostalgia, though, the years when I was small and when my boys were small - laden tree skirts with underwear and socks and paint kits and a few toys.

  10. Oh, you made me laugh. "The factory is closed." Great line. I'd like more grandchildren too.

    I'm sending money this year. I just can't face those malls myself either. I told my husband to put the word out that I don't want anything for Christmas. I don't want to have to find a place to put it! I need nothing. I want nothing. I just want the kids with me, but that won't happen this year.

  11. You do sound a bit Grinchy, but I agree on some things. Like collecting stuff for the needy. I give money to food banks and to support the needs of foster kids. Let the money be used as it is needed. On the other hand we spent the afternoon wrapping gifts for our immediate family. there will be a huge pile of them under the tree, and everyone of them will be something that was wanted and asked for. Most of our shopping was done on line. Our son-in-law had his packages sent here, and now our daughter's boxes are arriving here too. Gift wrap headquarters will be open for business from now until Christmas. And it is all fun!

  12. I got a kick out of this Jann! My husband and I had a similar conversation. I did think of a quilting accessory I want that I told him about. I could go buy it, but it's way more fun to send him to the fabric store! (I gave him coupons and a picture!)

    I got a kick out of my oldest daughter and her friend decorating the house last night. We went out in the rain and cut down a tree, let it dry off mostly in the garage, and once it was in the house, they both went to town. I didn't put a single ornament on, or put a decoration out. They loved it and we took lots of pictures. There are no presents yet, but there will be a few come Christmas morning . . . and the stockings are hung in anticipation!

  13. Sleep Country has a drive for teen kids who are transitioning from foster care to the adult world of living on their own, responsible for everything in life. I give gift cards to target the founder a mother I actually know started the drive 15 years ago with her own money! The Target cards enable the kids to buy what they really need and not crap people like to give to clothing and shoe drives. The cards that are given to those kids they can use to buy what they really need, they like Target and Walmart, I don't do Walmart, but will do Target and Safeway for food..It is all on the up and up and registered and one can get a tax donation, I was a foster kid and I got crap put in my locker at high school I actually just tossed in the trash embarrased at that, money spent for nothing, my best friend's dad a lawyer took us shopping for christmas stuff (divorced) he always paid for everything so I could get my brother and sister clothing, he was a real man in my opinion..One either gives from their heart or forgettabout it! happy holidays, we don't do christmas instead hanukkah and spoil our only child in jan end of (feb) first of when she is out this way to visit, she is based in NYC but is employed from LA for a film company. We don't need more stuff, getting a cat tree for our wild cat who gets too beat up outside, he loves one of my neighbors had a fellow make me a huge one paying for it today and he will set it up, we have two kitteh cats and the littlest one who thinks he is a tiger gets the top half our older lady kitteh cat gets all of the bottom.happy new year in 2013~

  14. I hope your holidays were bright and happy, however you spent the time. Nice try - asking for more grandkids. Great maneuver to get more time with the ones you have. :-) Happy New Year!

  15. You made great points! Thanks.
    Happy New Year!


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