Christmas means different things to different people. I found that out when I met my husband. Our first Christmas together, he gave me jewelry and perfume – pearl jewelry and real perfume, mind you. It was a lavish and appreciated gesture.
And, so, I believed that he was 100% into the Christmas thing.
Around our third Christmas together, I began to see his true feelings. He’d already gifted the traditional items, and was starting to stress about what to give me. Since we had recently spent a fair amount of money on living room furniture, I told him that I didn’t need any gift.
Obviously, I didn’t mean that I didn’t want ANY gifts; I just meant that I didn’t need any big gift.
As the holiday approached, I busily bought and wrapped gifts for my husband and baby daughter, and put them under the tree. I noticed that there weren’t any other packages for me. I panicked. Did he really buy me nothing?
On Christmas eve, in a state of despair, I wrapped up a spring-form pan and put it under the tree. I tagged it to myself.
And that is what I got for Christmas.
First lesson of marriage: state clearly what you want.
It was then I learned that my husband hated to shop. I hadn’t noticed this before, because shopping is one of my favorite pastimes. Christmas is like, well, Christmas for a shopper. A gleeful spending spree in the name of the season. The feeling is captured perfectly in A Christmas Carol, as Bob Cratchit joyfully spends his meager week’s wages on citrus, potatoes, and a goose!
Growing up, we made Christmas lists. Sometimes, they included a big gift, sometimes a collection of smaller things. We’d ask each other, “What do you want for Christmas?” and compose lists in our heads. It was a part-time job, and we worked diligently to produce the ultimate lists.
Clothing became the main desire as we got older. It was a practical approach, but still was exciting in a family that included four kids! I was happy to get socks, slippers, and art supplies. Somehow, my parents also managed gifts like bikes, skis, tropical vacations, and other generous gifts.
Not everyone does Christmas this way. Some families draw names; some believe that gifts should be surprises; some limit gifts to small, special tokens; while others believe that Christmas is the time to give to others, not receive more in an already bountiful life.
No approach is right or wrong; it just depends on how you view the holiday. Looking back on that Christmas as a young bride, I smile. It wasn’t important what was around the tree – my gift was, and is, who is around the tree.
However you celebrate the holidays, remember that the real gifts of Christmas are love and family; but, it’s still nice for everyone to get a little something from Santa.
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