Are You Skipping the Gifts this Year?

jesus christ figurine
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With inflation causing tight budgets, minimalism becoming a trend, supply chains still struggling, plus social changes suchs as families no longer living in the same town forever, and fewer marriages and children happening, is it time to revise how we celebrate Christmas? Should we free people from the ‘expectation’ that everyone must exchange gifts?

Obviously buying gifts has nothing to do with celebrating the birth of Jesus. We can still sing carols, bake cookies, hang up lights, and go to church, which I do enjoy. I used to spend months shopping and thinking about shopping and trying to make Christmas morning perfect! However, since my kids hit the age of “I only want expensive things that you can’t afford” and “Please don’t buy me clothes” and “I’m not even going to show up for Christmas, so don’t buy me anything”, I have come to hate Christmas shopping. I’m putting that in polite terms. I really am not looking forward to it. But it’s only because of the stress of buying gifts. I love the music and worship and FOOD.

But what about people who have a knack for choosing just the right gift and the money to do it? Can we let them be the exception rather than the rule for everyone?

I’m not stingy or selfish. I would happily buy you a gift or give you cash or do something nice for you any time of year! But I hate this social pressure to conform to holiday traditions that really only work well for CHILDREN. Buying kids piles of toys and hiding them and then watching their excitement on Christmas morning was awesome and fun! The Lego and action figure days are long gone for me and I don’t have grandkids. If I see something I think my grown kids would like, I buy it then and give it to them.

If I had tons of money, I would gladly buy each of my sons a new truck or a house. But since my kids are moving out into the world and need practical things that they will want to pick out for themselves, I think I’d rather just give them some cash or an Amazon gift card and skip the whole wrapping and surprise moment. But if I don’t buy gifts, what will I put under the tree? Should I skip the tree? How does one celebrate Christmas without children?

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What do you think? Am I just being a Grinch? Or was Cindy Lou Who right and Christmas isn’t about the gifts? Does the thought of giving up gifts upset you? Once the kids grow up, does Christmas should the traditions change? With the birthrate dropping fast, will Christmas traditions adapt? How do you handle it all?

17 comments

  1. I tend think this is a “problem” that only poverty will solve.

    I am only half joking. When we buy people things other people don’t need, we waste money. Not good.

    Milton Friedman made the follow observation with respect to government spending, but it has a larger application. So, consider the ways we can spend money.

    1. We can spend our own money on our self. When we do that, we usually try to avoid spending too much, and we try to be careful to get what we want.
    2. We can spend someone else’s money on our self. When we do this, we tend to be less concerned about the cost. We focus on getting what we want.
    3. We can spend our own money on someone else. Here we may succeed in being frugal, but we may have to ask what the other person wants, and that ruins the surprise. That is the basic problem with gift giving, and it explains why so many people return gifts to the store.
    4. We can spend someone else’s money on someone else. Here we may be less concerned about the cost or getting what is needed, but this is what the government does, and the government is notorious for fraud, waste, and abuse.

    Probably the best thing to do is to buy gifts for children. It is less difficult to please a child, and the gift doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, what children seem to appreciate the most is spending time with them. Adults tend to be more difficult to please. If we don’t know what loved one wants or needs, perhaps the best thing to do is donate money to a charity we have researched in their honor.

  2. And, of course, there is always that gift that causes one to reflect or think of things a bit differently. Those are opportunities not to be passed up.

  3. Cindy Lou Who was right, and the Whos should have told the Grinch to keep all that junk in his mountain hole. They would still have had a great Christmas. 😏
    That said, I’m buying my wife a new sweatshirt this winter; she can use another as we let the house get a little colder than before. It will say on the front, “I never dreamed I’d grow up to be the spoiled WIFE of a grumpy old HUSBAND, but here I am making it look EASY!”
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

  4. We gave up doing the gift thing years ago. It was fun when the kids were little, but stopped being fun when they grew up. Christmas is so much less stressful and more enjoyable when you don’t feel compelled to spend all that time and money buying (and wrapping and mailing) stuff.

  5. I admit Christmas is still my favorite time of the year. Primarily because I understand the true cost of my salvation, not just the death of Jesus but also what He gave up to become the ‘Child is given’. Although our girls are 24 and 22, we still enjoy giving them Christmas gifts and of course I love receiving gifts as well 😂😂. I think I will always celebrate this time of the year, but I’m sure I will on day perhaps change the way we celebrate it depending of the people in our lives

  6. There should never be an obligation towards gifts. They’re nice, but not necessary. And it comes down to how much decorating do you want to do, and why are you doing it. We have a small tree, and some various things that I like because they feel festive. But I like these things. And I do just the things I love. Nothing is obligatory…if it makes you feel good, doesn’t hurt others and is not out of budget, you do it. For gifts I do that something you need, something you want, something to wear and something to read. And a chocolate advent calendar.

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