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This year I just stopped giving gifts across the board to everyone on my list. If I saw something that I thought a certain friend or family member would like, I got it for them. If not, I didn't get anything.

Even though it was a little odd for some people -- I was told, "you have to get my wife *something*, she'll think you don't care..." -- I felt good about all the gifts I gave because they were gifts I wanted to give.


Thing is, me and everyone else I talked to felt exactly the same way. Every single one. How do we fix this?


Great post! I totally understand how you feel about gifts...but for me, I realized that I was the only one putting pressure on myself. I made a decision (last year, in fact!) that I was going to shop and give with good intentions. I wasn't just going to buy "something" to cross a person off of my list.

I also decided to stop buying for people who it no longer felt right to buy for. Either because the relationship had changed or because shopping for them in year's past was a futile gesture. (specifically people who don't know how to say "thank you").

This year felt very liberating because I had taken pressure off of myself. I still got some gifts that felt kind of "generic", but instead of taking it personally like I usually do, I decided that it really IS the thought that counts. I accepted the gifts gracefully and didn't read any more into it.

Granted...its taken me 30+ years to come to some peace about gift giving/recieving, but once I realized that I was the one pressuring myself to do the "right" felt great to free myself from it.

Its unfortunate that the holidays can't just be what they are supposed to be. A time of reflection, thoughtfulness, generosity of spirit, kindness, etc. I love the theory...but when I put pressure on myself to be the best gift giver/baker/hostess/guest/etc...I ruin the holidays for myself.

After a really upsetting situation last year, I decided once and for all to change what I could. So far, its worked. I can't guarantee I won't lose my mind over the holidays again, but I can guarantee that I'm going to try.


Our Christmas season isn't like much of that at all. I just never got into all the craziness. We've always bought gifts for our kids, sometimes each other. I make cookies and treats, we have extra fires in the fireplace, watch old Christmas movies and listen to old Christmas music, decorate our living room, enjoy each other a little bit more than usual, maybe, over the 6 week period.

This year, the kids and I stayed up most of the night to watch the eclipse, and the next day we had our solstice evening, though not as specially as usual. There was a great game of charades.

I sent a few holiday cards to people too far away to see most of the time. And then my brother and his girlfriend visited for a few days, and we played lots of games, didn't go much of anywhere because of all the snow.

I buy most of the kids' gifts online, but did have to go out a couple times for things. People said Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, otherwise it seemed about as harried as it always does.

Next year, do it all on your own terms, but only the bits you and your family really enjoy most. And screw the rest, don't even look back.


Amen, sister.
Yes, we don't celebrate Christmas, but the whole gift-giving-thing seems to be going out of control all over the world, and on all occasions. Gifts for birthdays - now that is one thing I could rant until the cows come home !
And yes, we seem to be evolving into a very intolerant, angry species. The spirit of Christmas - kindness needs a lot of rekindling.
Have a good year ahead, and may you find success and satisfaction in all your endeavors.


I made an announcement in the mid nineties that I was stopping giving obligatory birthday and Christmas gifts, and that I did not expect any. It took me over ten years for the presents to dwindle from others, and a few noses out of joint in the meantime. It was worth it in the long run, though. Now that I've inherited a kid, I do give gifts again, but everyone else understands that the old rules still apply to them. Makes life so much easier.

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