The holiday buying season is upon us. I am a sucker for giving gifts. I love the holiday season,  the decorating and the family time. I had decided to do a homemade Christmas for the families this year but my husband vetoed it. He didn’t want it to appear as though we were being cheap. So, I added gift cards to the baskets I had made up. That’s a thing though. Everyone knows we have some money, so doing anything other than a traditional Christmas would make us seem cheap.  Even if other people didn’t think so, in our own eyes it wouldn’t be enough.

How do these expectations of consumerism take hold? It’s the way I was raised, and the way my husband was raised. The holidays are a time of abundance. They are supposed to be a time of thankfulness for what we have. Instead it has turned into a time of giving presents based on your perceived level of wealth. It’s not the worst thing in the world to give presents. On the contrary, I love doing it. The problem comes when there are expectations placed on those gifts. The homemade gifts that I made were an investment of my time and things that I wanted to share with the family. So, why does that not seem like enough?

Partly it’s not enough because we are buying things for our kids. Had it been a totally homemade holiday, it might not have seemed so cheap, but because we bought gifts for the kids, it wasn’t homemade. My consumerism and desire to give my kids the best overcame me and I bought with the best of them. We shall have a respectable holiday once again. Maybe next year I’ll think before I spend and make it a thrifty holiday in fact instead of just in aspiration.

If I start now I might just have a few things finished for next Christmas.

We, as a society, want to appear prosperous and generous. When the people in our lives measure prosperity in traditional terms, it seems cheap to give homemade gifts. I guess we’ll  just have to start with gifts that obviously took a lot of effort – which means I need to start now. Maybe quilts or something equally difficult.

It’s a slippery thing, buying gifts. I had thought I was done shopping, then my in-laws and I went Black Friday shopping. I came home on an adrenaline rush. We found good deals and it made me want more. I had forgotten the rush of shopping. It worried me a little once I realized what had happened. I don’t want that to be how I feel good. It was a wake up call. I was glad that it was something that was no longer normal for me. So, the holiday season is one of acquisition but it doesn’t have to be. As long as we put thought and effort into it, what we make can be enough.

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3 Responses to Acquisition

  1. I understand your dilemma and agree with your aspirations–been there, done that. Although in my case, I had wider family support in the hand-made, low-key gift giving. There were a few years where people exchanged un-equally, but mostly we were able to actually talk about how we were approaching things–both during and outside the season. (Some of this was budget-forced, some was deciding what we wanted to teach our respective children about gift-giving.) The main thing is to give from the heart, and stay within your means (which doesn’t require spending up to the extent of your means). And children quite often do receive more ‘things’ than adults. Then they grow up.

  2. bmary says:

    This was an excellent read. I meant to read it earlier, but I was rushed and I wanted to take my time. I’m so weary of this consumerist attitude and I swear it just gets worse every year. My family is pretty low key on the gift giving, but there are a few and I’m sorry, they’re getting homemade stuff. I personally am not fond of gift getting, because what do I need? Well, last year, I got a bird feeder and some bird seed and I loved it. And an ironing board. Loved that too (although I ended up getting a much larger one for free after asking around). I don’t need or want stuff that isn’t practical and it bothers me when I ask for something practical and no one buys it, but they get me a bunch of stuff I don’t need or want. I don’t need necklaces or earrings. Ugh, it just frustrates me because I have so much stuff.

  3. Julia, I might have support from the wider family, but my husband would still feel like it wasn’t enough I think.That’s ok, I’ll get us there. Like I said, I may have to start with something homemade and grand, but I’ll figure it out. Even just setting a spending limit might be better. Either way, it’s up to me to do it for my family first.
    bmary, thank you! I must admit that I love getting presents. We have gotten to the point where we don’t actually need anything at all, and no one spends too lavishly on adults in the family. But I do love getting a gift card to the bookstore and pouring over options to get just the right thing with it. Something that the giver would appreciate and that I want. This year I got myself tickets to a show and told my husband they were from him. His actual present was going with me. To be honest, I just like opening gifts. It honestly doesn’t matter how big or small they are, I just like ripping the paper! Lol! Yes, I’m a 5 year old when it comes to presents. I’m with you on asking for practical things and no one getting them for you though. I was lucky enough to get a pressure canner and a vacuum sealer for Christmas last year and I was over the moon. Gifts should be things that the recipient will actually like and use. Sometimes you get it wrong, but the effort and the joy of finding something you think is perfect are the fun parts. That’s part of the reason I want to start doing more homemade things, I can put the effort into just the right thing.

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