Monday, December 08, 2008

Downshifting Christmas

Bringing Christmas Gifts by Konstantin Rodko
Bringing Christmas Gifts

It has taken a few years but we are celebrating Christmas in ever decreasing circles. I have had my fair share of dealing with Christmas.

  • Panic buying 2 weeks before Christmas and putting everything on a credit card. Then spending the whole year resenting the fact that I am having to work overtime to make the grade.
  • My gift list at some stage had a requirement for 60 gifts. It was a lovely feeling giving things to family, friends and work colleagues and yet the break from work seemed to end up in exhaustion. The joy was missing in me anyhow.
  • The next year, I must have decided to start making gifts to save money and stress but then got caught out because stress levels increased as my gift production conveyor belt seemed to lack time.
  • The next step was to scale up the gift tag and buy less of them. That did very Little really.
  • Next came sensibly saving and setting each person a price limit. That was fun, to try and get presents that were value for money.
  • The next step was to give presents to close family only and tell friends not to buy any for our children but to spend time with them. That worked really well last year, and the children had days out, something we are not able to do. They got to reconnect with important people in their lives and have fun. We still bought presents for them and their families.
  • This year, family members have posted a wish list in a variety of places to give each the freedom to buy something that will make them happy. It is meant to be a token gift. All price ranges are included and at least it gives a hint,you see you might always have bought music where the person actually wants a book. It still will be a surprise but a wanted one.

This year, I sent out a note to friends :

I hope you are all well. I just wanted to write as it is this time of the year again and I am hoping to make life a lot easier for you with a drastic suggestion.

1. This year we will not be sending Christmas cards but will give an overall donation to charity. We know you know us and we wish you all the very best in these difficult times.

2. As adults we have decided that we are quite happy without presents so please do not feel obliged to buy us anything,. We love you and we know that you love us too. We will however make a commitment to spend time together in January..... We hope to be better at seeing you in the next year.

3. If you want to give anything to the children, please feel free but you are under no obligation. Our boys have everything they could possibly want in life but will be happy to see you next year and if you can help them with work towards their goals that would be great too. We value learning skills together and building community. Overall the last 5 years have taught us that we want to invest in our health and relationships. Link

Happy Christmas to you all.

Timx had the same idea in Christmas thoughts so I am so glad I am not the only one taking a bold step. I have not received many replies from our friends, but one was glad for the stress reduction.

It is a freeing experience and brings us closer to what Christmas is really about. Sharing time, joy and cultivating relationships whilst visiting.
It has taken time to get this far and if we lose a couple of friends because of it, that would be a shame but on the other hand we will know which relationships to invest in.

How about you dear reader, where are you in downshifting Christmas.


timx said...

Nicely put (and thanks for the link!)

Clara said...

Dear Anne,

This is my first year out of college and with an income of my own. The fact that this is my money now and that it is much less than I have had in years past means that I am buying fewer gifts and considering them more thoughtfully. I am also buying more used things, especially books, and regifting some of my own lovely but unloved possessions. Above all, I am trying only to give a gift when I know the receiver will really appreciate it, and otherwise not give, or give something edible. This encourages my friends & family to do likewise.