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Author Topic: Christmas gift politics -- experiences and solutions.
-Lauren-
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This is something that comes up a lot in our lives, especially around this "wonderful" time of year. Folks are scurrying like ants to buy gifts for one another, and if they're not, hassling the people they know for info on things they'd like.

As I've grown older, Christmas has really lost its appeal. Sure, it was neat as a kid and even a younger teen to get stuff, especially when pocket money was hard to come by. Visits with family were also much more innocent and easy-going in days of yore, and now it's often a big political mess.

I don't know how to break it to the people around me that I just don't buy much into this anymore -- I don't see the point of people buying gifts (often accompanied by reciepts) for each other, often only in hopes of getting something in return. I'm of the mind of giving necessary gifts to people who need them, such as to a holiday charity or even to family members who are having a rough time.

I'm working now and have little living expense, so any little material item that I want, I can easily obtain myself. I'd much rather somebody help me out in stuff I'm struggling with (such as tuition and books, saving to purchase a vehicle, or buying a laptop computer for use away from home/at school) than small gifts that I could easily purchase myself if I really wanted them. But that would sound ungrateful, and I truly do appreciate the thought that goes behind it.

To boot, I'm trying to save up as much money as I can for school and independance, but there's a constant pressure to buy gifts for everybody who's doing so for me, despite my saying they shouldn't.

I'd be really interested to hear what you guys all think about the gift exchange system. I know there are several users here of different faiths and family structures, so let's rattle off! How does Christmas, complete with capitalism and familial pressure, if applicable, feel to you? How do you deal?

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LucysDiamonds
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I really dislike the whole gift-giving tradition, most especially among friends. I don't mind it so much for very, very close friends (read: my boyfriend and my best girlfriend - and the latter is usually a homemade gift anyway, like a burned mix CD or something) and immediate family, especially if I know there's something they want or need, and as I've gotten older over the years I've started insisting on more practical things for birthdays and Christmas. But last year, for instance, I essentially told everyone outside the abovementioned who might be expecting a gift from me that I simply don't do gifts, and not to take it as a sign that I love them any less.

As for family - my father's side is relatively small; he's one of three kids, and pretty much the nieces/nephews get checks (the most practical of all gifts! As unsentimental as it is, I appreciate these the most of all), while the adults don't usually do much of anything for each other. My mother, on the other hand, is one of twelve! There used to be a name-draw/Secret Santa kind of thing, but after a while it got harder to organize, so on our annual Christmas gathering, all the adults bring one generic gift and play a quasi-complicated exchange game, the details of which I won't go into here. But that has become more about the fun of the exchange itself than the actual gifts, which is nice.

I am also interested in how people of other faiths deal with the "holiday season" - I hate to admit it, but I hardly know anything about other traditions.

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So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky
As someone told me lately
Everyone deserves the chance to fly

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September
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I loved the presents when I was little. Then I got older, realized that I was expected to provide gifts as well, and started spending pre-holiday season trying to figure out what to buy for who.

My parents stopped exchanging gifts years ago because they think it's silly to try and think of something to buy something just because it's Christmas. Still, I get my parents and my brother Christmas gifts each year because I see so little of them and I like to give them something back as a Thank You for all they do for me. So I actually put a lot of thought into my gifts for them, but it's not really a Christmas thing, that just happens to be the occasion.

As for the gifts I receive - ever since we returned from the US, I've been using all gift-giving occasions as a personal fund drive for the means to finance plane tickets back to the US to visit friends and boyfriend.

I'm an Atheist, which my family knows about, but since they're Catholic and I get time off from school, I go home for the holidays, anyway. We have a mutual understanding about how the gifts work for us. We do exchange them, but it's not an obligation so much as taking the opportunity to do something for the people we care about, because with busy schedules and living in different parts of the world, we don't often get a chance to do that.

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Johanna
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dailicious
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I've always enjoyed giving gifts much more at random times throughout the year, just because I've seen something that I think someone close to me would like, so I get it for them. That also tends to fit a budget much better than a designated gift giving time, since you're not buyigng gifts for a lot of people all at once or because you feel like you have to, whatever.

That all said, I've never exchanged gifts with a lot of people, it's usually been my parents and occasionally friends I'm closer to. Now that I'm actually making money, I love being able to get little things that could be useful to my parents to give them an extra little, "Thinking of you, thanks for all you've done for me all these years" gesture. Christmas has always been a big family thing for me, especially as an only child (read: I was a spoiled kid, but a lot more than any gifts I ever got I miss all the christmas-mornign breakfasts and dinners and traditions with my parents), so I think I'll always hold onto what I can of it from home (and especially this year since it will be my first christmas away from home, ever!)

Also, I tend to hold off on asking my parents for larger-items that I'd really like and need a bit of help for money-wise for birthdays and christmases - such as this year... I'd really like a new camera, especially since I'm hoping to study photography beginning in January, I'm going to need one. But, even now that I'm working full time, I have rent and bills to pay, so it would take me a couple years to save up [Razz]

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Jean
aka dailicious
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DarkChild717
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Hmm....I'm going to be the odd one out. I love Christmas! I love the idea of doing something or buying something for someone else. And I'll be honest--I love to receive in return.

Part of it, though, is the environment for me. My dad's side of the family gives gifts from the heart. Things appreciated. They listen through out the year, and know each other well enough that the gifts are unexpected and wonderful. For example, for a birthday, sister in law 2 remembered hearing that sister in law 1 really wanted an outdoor heater, because her and my niece love to sit outside, on the back deck, and do their homework together.

I give my niece classic books, because she adores them. How many 12 year olds are ecstatic to receive the Count of Monte Cristo (UNabridged version) as a gift?

I typically make jelly for Christmas, for family, accompanied either by Fair Scone Mix or home-made candies. This was a legacy from my grandmother, and it's one I continue with pride.

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Wise Janet Weiss
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I love Christmas.

But I hate all the sales and stuff, the hassle of what to buy & The Stores That Feed On The Christmas buyers.....Especially the stores, I dont understand people who get up at five in the morning, waiting to race into a Macys.

The ONLY thing I like about Christmas, is (yea) the gifts, food, jokes & having a good time with Family & Friends....More the food though [Big Grin]

And another thing:
It's all about Christmas!!!! Have you ever heard of a Hannuka(sp?) Sale??? A Kwanza Sale?? Or is that politically incorrect??

(Dark, of subject, but "The Count of Monte Cristo??? Whats it about, if I can ask).

~Cynthia

[ 11-02-2006, 02:02 PM: Message edited by: Tuxy ]

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summergoddess
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quote:
Hmm....I'm going to be the odd one out. I love Christmas! I love the idea of doing something or buying something for someone else. And I'll be honest--I love to receive in return.
^^Your not the only one. I feel the same way. I love gift-giving as much as gift-receiving.

My parents still give xmas gifts to us three kids, because they want to and love us so much and because they are parents. Same story for my parents in law as well for my husband. My partner and I will end up being the same way with our future kids as well.

My bestfriend and I still exchange gifts and I think it'll always be tradition regardless of how old we are. It's neat to have this special thing between us girls [Smile]

However, Christmas is more appreciated with family time. I love it when everyone is able to be together, and celebrate life. Memories carry on forever and presents don't always do! My mother is the host this year for her side of the family, and it looks like it'll be on Christmas Eve so i'm very excited and my mother in law is hosting Christmas for her side of the family on Boxing day too. So it's neat, both mothers are hosting this year!

Christmas has also gotten a new appreciation as well since I knew I was moving out. I had known since Christmas 2004 that my partner and I were going to be living together, and I made that last christmas living at home so special. Christmas at our place with my partner has become more romantic and we have fun decorating the christmas tree together and adding festive decorations around. Christmas has always been important to my husband and I for all of our lives, and we look forward to celebrate it with new memories every year. [Big Grin]

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~Jules

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-Lauren-
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Alright, I think I'll ask those of you who love Christmas & gift-giving then, for reference:

How would you react to somebody you know well asking you to forego buying them a Christmas gift, and instead writing them a check/going in with other friends and family members to help them through a hardship?

Would it be "the same" as getting to wrap a gift and watch them open it? Would you feel hurt, rejected, or the victim of tackiness?

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DarkChild717
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quote:
Originally posted by Tuxy:


(Dark, of subject, but "The Count of Monte Cristo??? Whats it about, if I can ask).


Count of Monte Cristo is a classic tale of romance and intrigue. [Wink]

A man is betrayed by his friend (who wants his fiancee) and is sent to the Chateau D'If for....12 years, I think. He escapes, finds massive treasure, and begins to plot his revenge on ex-friend and ex-fiancee, who are now married.

Great book, great movies. You should check it out! It's written by Alexander Dumas.

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Caylin, Scarleteen Volunteer
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logic_grrl
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One option some people might find appealing is to go for the "virtual" gifts that various development or environment-focused charities offer - you make a donation, and get a card to give to the person explaining that you've given a heifer or a water pump or a reading lesson or planted five trees or whatever on their behalf.

For example, one US-based charity doing this is:

http://www.heifer.org/

So you've still got the idea of giving something special, but it's doing good (and not landing that person with something they may not want that they'll have to cart down to the charity store in the new year).

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"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." - the Talmud

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wobblyheadedjane
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Lauren, I don't think I'd personally find that suggestion any tackier than making Christmas lists for friends and family for tangible gifts, which is really common in my family so that's to say I don't see it as tacky at all. I think it would be a really sweet idea to help someone in need as a gift. On the other hand though, a gift is totally at the discretion of the giver, so I think even if you requested something very specific, and didn't receive that (money to a charity, or an offer to help a family member in need, etc.) you just gotta put on your most gracious face for the thank-you.

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Unlucky at cards; lucky at love.

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MissSmarty
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This sums up my feelings on it perfectly:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by dailicious:
[QB] I've always enjoyed giving gifts much more at random times throughout the year, just because I've seen something that I think someone close to me would like, so I get it for them. That also tends to fit a budget much better than a designated gift giving time, since you're not buyigng gifts for a lot of people all at once or because you feel like you have to, whatever.

I have one friend in particular who will ask ahead of time if I am giving her a gift so she can know if she should give me one. If she gives me one and doesn't say anything about it, she expects me to have something ready for her. The concept in giving as an act of kindness is rooted in doing it because you don't have to, because you want to.

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