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Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Stuff

I am alone in the house today 'cuz Super Ted is at work, and Kiddo spent the night at Grandma's. We went to Ted's company Christmas party yesterday and meant to go out and do some Karaoke afterward, but in a fit of largess I bought a round of drinks that used up most of our cash, and we didn't know where to go singing anyway. The party was kinda fun, but it was not as much fun as previous years, and would have been much less fun without the benefit of copious amounts of wine. The after party was really boring, so we came home and took advantage of the empty house.

I am going to get motivated to take inventory of all our gifts and start wrapping soon. It's a good day for it, since Kiddo is not here to get underfoot.

All this gift giving and materialism at Christmas really irritates the shit out of me. If you read accounts of Christmas 100 years ago or even 50 or 60 years ago, it was nothing like it is now. People gave each other a couple of things that they had bought or made or even--horrors--something that had once been their own, that they were now passing of to someone else. People decorated a little, had a nice dinner, and maybe visited with some friends or relatives. Santa Claus dropped off some fruit and nuts and maybe a little candy. And that was it.

Oh yeah--people thought about Jesus, whose birth is ostensibly the reason for the celebration.

I wonder how things got to be the way they are today, with this insane drive to spend more money, give better gifts, light more lights, spend more money, decorate more garishly, go to more parties, do more activities, and SPEND MORE MONEY every year. I hate it. I can't afford it. I get sick to my stomach every year when I think about it.

And this year, I quit. Contrary to Super Ted's reasoning, I don't really believe my in-laws will hate me if I can't afford to do a lavish Christmas Eve dinner AND give amazing gifts in the month when work is the most difficult and tips are the lowest. I don't think anyone will resent that I chose to buy propane and make my house payment instead of spending an extra 30% on gifts. This is a lean year, and that's that. I may have to once again resort to gifts from the kitchen, and you know what? It's OK by me.

This year, I am also trying to teach my kiddo something abut the true spirit of giving. He wants to make Squid kites for his cousins. A candle for his auntie. A birdhouse for Grandma. Another birdhouse for Daddy. I really really believe that this sort of giving is far superior to the semi-random distribution of store-bought gifts.

I am also trying to reduce the amount of trash that goes along with gift-giving. I have been saving and re-using gift bags for years. Eventually they do fall apart, but what the heck. Better to get 5 or 6 uses out of them than one. And better to get them for free than to pay for them, too! ;) *wink*


Holly said...

We reuse gift bags as well. It's become kind of a joke between my sister and I as we give each other completely innappriate to the occasion bags (since she just had a baby, I keep getting baby gift bags, she gets 5 yo boy gift bags). This year, I'm thinking of hitting the fabric store after Christmas, buying the holiday fabric cheap and sewing bags for us to give gifts to each other. Not so much to give out, because I'll want them back, but between the 3 of us. Maybe I'll branch out later.

Erin said...

One year I went to the thrift store and bought all the little canvas tote bags they had. They were like, 50 cents each. Then I filled them up with gifts. (I forgot about that until just now. I should start watching for those when I go shopping this year.) For my niece and nephew's birthday last fall, I bought some inexpensive string backpacks and put the presents inside them. Then I used a new pair of shoe laces form the railway museum for the bow. So the wrapping was part of the gift.