It's a rainy day in Los Angeles, and I'm sitting close to the fire, coffee mug in hand, smug because I don't have any more Christmas shopping to do. This is not because I am overly organized during the holiday craziness.
No, this is because our family wiped out the giving of adult gifts. At first, it was a practical decision. Several years ago my side of the family was weary of material items, and it dawned on us that we had basically been swapping gift cards, which felt impersonal and cold. So we decided to give only to the kids that year. We reduced clutter, reduced financial obligation, and reduced stress by eliminating six gifts off our lists.
This felt so liberating!
The Gorilla and I were so taken with the idea that the next year we proposed it to his side of the family. His siblings and parents readily agreed, and suddenly we had no other adults on our shopping lists. We felt like we'd really slayed the consumer beast!
I'm not sure if it felt odd to the other family members or not, but my husband and I were comfortable with the idea from the start. We have never, since our first year of dating, given each other Christmas gifts. This was originally born out of uneven finances and a desire to spend any holiday funds on quality time together, which we did, taking a trip in December every year we were dating and early married. We decided early on to "go big" for birthdays, and after nearly eight years together this is still our tradition.
But for some reason this year the No Adult Gifts thing feels a little Scrooge-ish. Feels a little high-and-mighty. I'm not reaching out to the family to change it, I know the reasons why we don't and I stand behind them. I'm pretty sure I'm the one who implemented them. But when I see my sister-in-law pin something small and sweet on her pinterest board, it kind of makes me ache that we have such a policy. When I come across something awesome in a gift guide that I know my dad would like, I get just a little sad.
It's possible I'm just feeling the emotion of the season, but there are two sides to the gifting/no-gifting rule. In case you're feeling the weight of the holiday frazzle, take it from someone who's a few steps away from it: gifting shouldn't be complicated. When it becomes too complicated, a break is necessary.
As for my family, I think I'm going to propose that we draw names next year. That's a nice compromise, don't you think?