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?