Give Me Almost Nothing

With the holidays fast approaching I thought I would take a moment here to discuss something that has ensured I don’t get moody for years.  It’s a very simple thing to do and extremely effective. All I do is:  I expect to get almost nothing for the holidays in the way of gifts.

Granted in past experience I still do get gifts from people (so on that front I’m wrong every year), but I don’t ever make any preconceptions on what those will be.  Thus saving me from the ordeal of having too much emotion invested into an object I may or may not get.  I go through the holiday season generally happy and content with anything from a pair of socks to a box of chocolates.  I’ve grown up enough to realize that the love people have for me isn’t determined by how expensive a gift is, but rather the fact they bothered to give a gift at all.

Perhaps a good example here is my sister-in-law that doesn’t particularly have a lot of money to spend on gifts always manages the find the most thoughtful gifts that I’ve seen.  She has managed to make more people cry or gasp at Christmas than I know and on a fraction of my spending budget.

On the flip side of this I also don’t bother giving gifts to every minor person that has any involvement in my life.  I don’t know who delivers the weekly fliers to my house, so the idea of getting a paper boy a gift is a insane to my point of view.  Expanding that forwards I also don’t bother giving co-workers a gift, or anyone whom I buy services from (like the babysitter).

This isn’t to say I’m a cheap bastard, but rather I look at individual relationships and do something appropriate to recognize that person based on if they are a close friend or not.  I have many friends and acquaintances that I know, but I certainty don’t feel I know them that well to give a gift.  My little rule of thumb to even consider this is based on the fact I should be able to tell you if the person in question has kids or not and their names and ages.  Or if they are single, I should be able to give a fairly good summary of their past (born there, went to school here and the name of their last ex).  Granted the rules are fairly generic, but you have to pick your own line in the sand that works for you.

So how do you limit your expectations of others or your spending on gifts at Christmas?

4 thoughts on “Give Me Almost Nothing”

  1. Being raised nominally Jewish but now an atheist, Christmas has always been *someone else’s* holiday, not mine (as are all other religion-based holidays). The last time I actually bought something Christmas-related was when I was still in my former company’s grab bag in the mid-1990s. Now my Christmas budget is zero.

    December 25th for me is nothing more than the day after the 24tha dn before the 26th, although on the 26th all those annoying TV ads and radio songs disappear for about 10-11 months.

  2. I disagree with your take on not giving to a babysitter or paperboy, even if you are opposed to giving a “gift” you should still give a “bonus”. I agree that these people may not be friends but you still have a business relationship with them. I know when I walk around other neighbourhoods and see weekly flyers scattered around the end of a driveway or in the rain that I feel great appreciation for my paperboy who takes the time to walk up to my porch and put the paper in my mailbox rather than just toss it at the end of my driveway. If they are doing an above average job (like my paperboy) I think that effort should be recognized and rewarded, if not by a Christmas gift, then by a year end bonus. I certainly know that I enjoy my year end (christmas) bonus from my boss and I’m sure my paperboy does as well.

  3. (Warning – this is a long comment)
    Last year, I realized I had developed a Christmas Gift Habit.
    During the years I was married (and I didn’t notice how dysfunctional that relationship was until it was over), I became conditioned to an annual routine (I figured out later that we were repeating the same routine that my ex-husband’s parents had). In a nutshell, he treated me horribly all year, but “made up” for it at Christmas with lots of presents, some expensive, some not, but a lot of items.
    Fast forward two years after the marriage ended, and I was (and still am) in a relationship where I am treated very well every day; a relationship I truly feel loved and respected in. For that first Christmas, I bought gifts for him that I felt were thoughtful and useful, didn’t blow the budget but were still generous. I do not regret getting him anything, all items were/are used and enjoyed. He did not have much money last year and did his best, but as I had been conditioned from my previous relationship, I was disappointed. (which prompted me to figure out why I was expecting so much more).
    I was horrified and disgusted with myself after I figured out why I wasn’t happy with what I had received and vowed to change that part of me.
    This year, I am trying to be present-free. My boyfriend and I have agreed to not exchange gifts with each other (just buying for our respective children, and a few other close people). We are happy together and I want that happiness to stay focused on our actions towards each other, not how many shiny boxes and bags there are to open under the tree.
    This is something new for me, and I expect I will have a few feelings left from the old life, but I’ll be on the lookout for them, and take action replace them them with the joy I have found with my new life.

  4. There really are 3 kinds of “Give me nothing” folks.

    – The first kind really lacks for nothing and so wants nothing.

    – The 2nd kind is actually embarrassed and guilty about having others foot the bill for something they want or need.

    – The 3rd kind is the practical kind. The want stuff but they have really specific products or requirements in mind and only that particular product would do. These items would also be at the pricier end. As a result the gifts others give to them will either be inferior and not exactly what they want or will cost them more that they would have felt comfortable with.

    Holidays are the time to actually share time and experiences with others rather than giving gifts that make both the giver and the receiver uncomfortable.

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