A Christmas Miracle!

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

I love Christmas.  I like getting together with my family and friends, eating tons of food and drinking what may be considered an abnormally high quantity of alcoholic breakfast drinks (I promise, this only happens on most major stat holidays).  One part of Christmas that I don’t really like as much as an adult is presents….especially with my families.  In the past few years, both my wife’s and my families have done a gift draw, where you draw a name and are responsible for buying something at a fixed price level (say $50).

I have found this method of gift exchange kind of silly, and have made my objections well known to my (very patient) wife.  My question was – why don’t we just stand around in a circle and pass a $50 bill and then go buy ourselves something that we really want?  The whole premise of the exchange was kind of funny.  I get along with my whole family, but unless my wife tells them what I’m into, they would have no idea what I’m interested in.

This Christmas, my mom didn’t get around to organizing a gift exchange until late and called and asked what I thought we should do.  I told her that instead of a gift exchange, why not just get together like we always do, and just have a nice visit, as well as eating way too much food.  At the same time, my wife’s mom came (independent from my objections, which I kept to myself and my wife) to the conclusion that the gift exchange seemed silly and maybe next year, we’ll just make sure that my nephews get a few presents and keep it low key.

For me, these new systems are exactly what I’m looking for – the same family time without the wasted spending.  My wife and I will still exchange presents – mainly stuff that each of us know the other would have bought for ourselves over the year, but held off because it was too much of a “want” or not really all that necessary.

I would like the holidays to be less present-oriented and more family-centered.  I don’t really get to see a lot of my family and friends as much as I’d like to.  The best memories I have of Christmases as a kid were quiet afternoons after the craziness  of the morning – playing board games, listening to music and eating snacks that we usually didn’t get.  I couldn’t tell you what I got in 1994, but I do remember playing a specific board game with my parents and brother and having a great time.

What’s you or your family’s present-giving policy?  Do you have a favourite annual Christmas tradition?

4 thoughts on “A Christmas Miracle!”

  1. I am the oldest of five – all of us married with children of varying ages. Several years ago my parents suggested we take turns selecting a charity, send out an email to all, and everyone donates what they wish directly to that charity. It has worked very well. Our children, now 22 and 20, even participated last year – on their own – and gave us cards indicating that was there gift to us. You can’t ask for anything better.

  2. Our rules are you bring a consumable gift (the definition of consumable being no stuff to store/dust/be unhappy with etc. so stuff like food,drink, tickets, experiences and so forth – creativity counts) that you wouldn’t mind taking home yourself and costs no more that $25. Disguising the gift is mandatory i.e. what it is not revealed until it is picked in the next step.

    All gifts go in a pile and lots are drawn by all participants. Each person in turn either picks from the gift pile or “steals” from some one who has picked before. If a person is “stolen” from they get to pick from the pile. Last step is for the first person who picked to exchange with any of the previous people.

    Everyone has a lot of fun.

  3. Up until 5 years ago, we adults bought for everyone, with a limit of $5 per recipient. When you know all year this is coming up, it is easy to do. Some common gifts were favorite chocolates or candies, candles, socks, etc. When we go bored of that, we switched to drawing names, we do it at Thanksgiving and include a list of gift ideas, with sizes or colors. It seems like this year has turned into more of a gift card exchange. I know I won’t be able to change my family into “no presents”, so I was thinking that next year we can change to making it either homemade, or consumable, or like we tried once, that the gift has to be in a glass jar.

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