Monday, December 25, 2006

Our Christmas Tradition

So what was the most fun gift you gave this year? (Whether or not the gift itself was fun is not important here, but what was fun for you to give to someone else?)

I honestly don’t remember many of the presents I have received over the years, but I can remember a few I have given. I vividly recall the year I was fourteen when I had my first “real job” working in a restaurant . For Christmas that year I had earned enough money to get my whole family more upscale gifts than my former babysitting wages had allowed, so I was ever so excited about that. I got my mother a blender, one brother a lava lamp and another a black light. (I know there were other presents that have slipped my mind, but those three things really stand out.) I was so proud to give those gifts!

These days, however, trying to find just the right present for my beloved can be one ornerous chore. In the first place, he has so much stuff already, that it’s just about impossible to find something that he will truly appreciate. In the second place, his birthday is in December so by the time I have THAT figured out, Christmas shopping for him is just more than I can face. Furthermore, because our tastes and interests are very, VERY different, he has a tough time figuring out what to get me.

So we’ve worked out a deal that fits us perfectly.

We set a dollar amount limit – usually quite small. I then go out and buy a present to MYSELF that will be FROM him. I don’t tell him what it is. I wrap it up and put it under the tree about a week before Christmas (sometimes in very deceiving shaped box.) He goes out to buy a present to HIMSELF that will be FROM me and does the same thing. I get to spend that whole week being curious, pinching, shaking, wondering what thoughtful thing I got for my husband. He gets to be curious (although he is not a pincher/shaker) about what he got for me. On Christmas morning I get to unwrap the present HE will keep (the one he chose for himself under the guise of being FROM me) and He gets to open up the present I will keep which I picked for myself from HIM.
We both get EXACTLY what we want. We both get anticipation. We both get the fun of magic and surprise on Christmas morning. It’s so fun to say “Wow! Look what I got YOU!!!”

This is WAY better than all those years when we picked things out for each other, sincerely trying to find something good, but usually getting the wrong thing. Or the years when we just told each other what we wanted for Christmas and opened up presents we liked with no surprise at all. I also like this better than the years when we both insisted “Christmas is for kids – lets focus on all the little ones. We don’t need to get anything for us.”

This allows us to do something fun for the kid in each of us. It gives us something to look forward to and a surprise on Christmas morning. Still, we both can be assured the money isn’t wasted, because we each get EXACTLY what we want.

My present this year? A bird feeder with deluxe seed. Isn’t he THOUGHTFUL??? You bet!

His gift: An underwater housing for a digital camera. (for a type of camera we don’t currently own, I might add….but what the heck, he was excited to find a great deal on this housing since there is not one available for the camera we do have. For our next tropical trip he wants to take just ONE camera that he will use on both land and underwater, rather than packing all the underwater stuff AND taking our digital. So one of our kids will probably inherit the digital we have now and somebody else will get the film camera he now uses underwater. We’ll keep the goodies passing around to someone who appreciates ‘em!. Some time in the next year he’ll buy the Olympus C-500 to fit his new underwater casing and still have a pretty good deal! When we get it, maybe we’ll take pictures of lovely birdies eating at my new birdfeeder.

So that’s what we do for presents at our house.

But of course, Christmas is about so much more than gathering loot, no matter what method of procurement is utilized.

So no matter what it is you believe about Christmas-- or Kwanzaa or Hanukah or Saturnalia, or to my atheist friends who are just looking for a good excuse for a feast with spiked eggnog….

Many blessing to you all. As for me, I’m just looking for one more piece of pie and then a long nap!

1 comment:

Marie said...

My family for the most part has become very practical about Christmas over the years -- most of us believe that it is much more important to get what you want than to have a surprise. Of course, if we were listening carefully to each other all year long and making mental notes, we could give gifts that were both wanted and a surprise. But I'm terrible at this, and so are most of my family members.

I have a friend, however, who is excellent at this. She keeps a mental note of things people mention during the year and magically produces them at birthdays and Christmas. I usually just get her something off her Amazon wish list, so my gifts are appreciated, but predictable. I decided this year I really wanted to get her something that she had mentioned that would be a surprise. I was racking my brian in November and then one day I got my annual letter from National Geographic, begging me to resubscribe and offering me a killer deal on gift subscriptions. Bells went off -- she had mentioned several times how much she loved National Geographic and she had even stolen her parents' copy on her recent trip home. It was so fun to see her open the gift and the genuine excitement and surprise ("is this a SUBSCRIPTION?!?") -- I'm such a lazy gift giver that that exhiliration has rarely happened to me. It was a lot of fun, but if I'm ever going to get good at it I'm going to just have to learn to be a better listener in general. That sounds like a lot of work.

And of course, I'm not ahead of her yet. She surprised me with exactly what I wanted, yet again. Curses upon her thoughtful little soul.

I like your system with your husband -- I told my dad just now and he's all in favor of adopting it. Nothing so sad as searching and searching for a suitable gift and then having to watch the receiver pretend to love it.

Enrich Your Word Power!

Word of the Day
Quote of the Day

This Day in History