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Bah, Humbug!

I’m trying to understand the “gift exchange” thing among adult members of a family and friends. As a Christian, if any member of my family or a friend is in need of something, I certainly don’t wait until Christmas, if I can supply that need. In addition, in our family and circle of friends, everyone has more than they need to begin with.

Typically, we used to spend a great deal of time and money finding each other gifts, wrapping them up, and then opening them at Christmas. It seemed completely ridiculous to me.

We would all spend hundreds of dollars trying to guess what someone might like or enjoy, and only got it right (maybe) 30% of the time. People ended up with stuff they didn’t want, need or even like very much; but, they would put on a little smiley face and thank the giver and then make little humorous comments on the ride home like, “What was she thinking?”

I finally couldn’t take it anymore. At Christmas dinner (about 10 years ago) I shared my concern and proposed an alternative. In a nut shell, this is what I said,

“Look, we all spend a great deal of time and money finding and purchasing gifts for one another; mostly for things none of us really need. I would like to suggest that next year, instead of buying gifts for one another, we determine who much we would spend; find a real need in the community, like; a single mother with four kids who can’t pay their rent; or an old lady who needs help with the cost of her prescription drugs; or a worthwhile charity, and spend the money we would normally spend on each other on those people or charities. Then at Christmas, instead of exchanging gifts with one another, we exchange our stories of how God used our resources to truly help someone in need.”

To my delight, everyone agreed! I then added, “Perhaps the Christmas celebration could be made memorable and special if people wanted to give gifts to each other that did not cost any money; like, writing a humorous poem for each member of the family and reading it out loud at Christmas, composing a song and singing it at Christmas; spending some time thinking about fond memories and then sharing the details with everyone at Christmas; researching a branch of the family tree and sharing about a great, great, great Grandfather; learning a traditional folkdance and performing it (this is great for laughs--especially if it’s performed by your chubby Aunt so-and-so).”

Well, for ten years, our family has not exchanged wrapped gifts among the adults and for ten years everyone is a great deal happier, less, stressed and can actually focus on what really matters.

Note: We still give gifts to the under 18 year olds; but, you know what? It became clear that we hadn’t a clue what they wanted either and basically they finally admitted, that all they really want is money. So there you go.

Merry Christmas Everyone!


Mel said…
What a fabulous idea!! We don't do a gift exchange with our family, either, but neither do we pool our money to give to a charitable cause. I would love to do something like that... Perhaps God will provide a way for me to suggest it to everyone without offending them. :)

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