For me. The answer is yes.
I guess it might have started when I was little. My mom was a single parent growing up. But I watched her bust her ass to give my brother and I the best Christmas gifts a child could ask for. Talking dolls, portable CD players, over-priced tennis shoes…she made it happen every Christmas. Even though there might have been days when we couldn’t pay our electricity bill or had to share a combo meal from the Taco Beuno up the street. We might’ve had some rough times throughout the year but on December 25th, my brother and I knew we would wake up to a living room full of perfectly wrapped presents. I didn’t see it at the time, but I knew it was her way of showing us just how important our happiness was to her.
I seemed to keep that same mentality as I grew up. When I started working as a teenager, I loved the holidays but I also despised them. Simply because I knew this was going to be my “most broke time of the year”. I would insistent that my brother, Mom, loved ones and friends give me a list of what they wanted for Christmas. I made it my business to get it. In my mind, they would only be happy if I gave them exactly what they wished for.
It didn’t get any better in my 20s. As a matter of fact, it was probably worse. By then, my list had grown bigger because of boyfriends, nieces, and nephews. Nothing was too expensive. Just tell me what you what and I was gonna do my best to make it happen. Was my thought. Not to mention the fact that I had real life bills like rent and a car note. So believe me. The struggle was real! I would not only stress about the money I was spending. I also stressed just looking for the perfect gift. But the stress wasn’t coming from them. It was all self-inflicted.
Something changed in my 30s. Actually, there are a few things that I remember that made me change my perception of holiday shopping.
One night, I was looking over my gift idea list and searching online for prices when my boyfriend walked in.
“What are you doing?” he asked. “Trying to figure out how to get these last gifts. I don’t know how I will be able to afford them.” I answered. His reply was everything, “The people who love you don’t care if you buy them a sweater or a car; they will love you just the same. And if they don’t, then did they really love you in the first place?”
That simple reply got the ball rolling and started my thought process on scaling back.
Another reality that struck me was how broke I would be every Christmas Day. I mean I couldn’t pay my way into a movie or buy a nice bottle to sip from because I didnt have two damn pennies to run together! All of my bread was spent on gifts.
The final straw had to do with nameplate necklaces. I have two nieces and after bugging them about what they wanted with no answer, I decided what to get them myself. Nameplate necklaces were big (and still are). So, I thought why not buy them both one? I searched high and low for gold nameplate necklaces that delicately displayed there names in cursive. On Christmas Day, I anxiously awaited in my Moms living room as they each opened their presents. When they reached the box with the necklaces, my heart stopped. I just knew they would be over the moon. I mean they were both teens. What teen girls wouldn’t love a girly nameplate chain?? Not these two. Not only did they seem unimpressed. But I never saw the necklaces again. They never wore them. I remember at one point even giving one of them suggestions on how it could be styled. But it fell on deaf ears. Money wasted. And I’m not talking $20 money. It hurt me to the core. All of that effort for nothing. I can’t blame them, I had to take the hit for that. After all, I bought them something that I thought they would be into. With an amount that I couldn’t afford. My bad. Lesson learned.
That was the last time I went hard for Christmas gifts.
Now things are different. Sometimes, I ask them for ideas or a list of 3 ideas. Then there are times when I don’t ask for shit. I set a small budget for the few on my list and they get what they get.
I still do it with love but not with all of the money and energy I have. They might appreciate it. They might not. But I don’t waste my time worrying about it anymore. It is what it is.
Now, I choose to spend my time focusing on creating traditions, like our annual themed Christmas Eve party. As well as, spending time with my loved ones and making memories that last a lifetime.
I’ve learned, the hard way, that the holidays aren’t about presents at all. It’s about family, friends, and happy times. That’s really what lasts for a lifetime. Not a necklace. 🤷🏽♀️
What about you?? Have your thoughts on holiday shopping and gift giving changed? If so, how??? Let me know in the comments…
Stay Fearless 💋