I survived the holidays, yet again. Last night Garrett and I went to my parent’s house to celebrate Christmas with the immediate family. This year Garrett and I decided to do something different: we asked for nothing. We still purchased gifts for family members, but asked people who normally buy for us to buy for some more deserving families instead. Overall I think the experiment was a success. Some thoughts from the past week, as a way of wrapping up.
We had to deliver the gifts for our Christmas Bureau on December 8. After two weeks of shopping and feverish wrapping, I was in no mood to shop for my family or friends. As a result, we didn’t really start shopping until December 23. I was a little suprised to find that I still felt a huge sense of obligation while shopping. I had hoped that by changing the game slightly I would feel better about buying for others and possibly be more in tune with the “true spirit” of Christmas (whatever that is). I was also suprised at how hard it was for me to spend money on the Christmas Bureau families. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel good about doing something for others, but it was a continual battle to say to myself, “look, you don’t really need that $50; let it go!” I don’t like what it says about me that it was so difficult to part with the monies, but I do feel better about it in retrospect.
Even though they had already contributed to our project, some family members still picked something up for us. Garrett’s step-mother gave us each a gift card to Border’s, and my sister bought me a half-pound of Mexican coffee beans. Garrett and I decided to go easy with each other, too, although I think he violated the spirit of that decision with his gift of a Wacom 4×5 Tablet (not that I’m complaining).
Even if the lead-up to Christmas was largely the same as last year (buy, buy, buy; plan, plan, plan), the finish is better now. Last year I remember unloading gifts from the car, unable to carry them all at once, and still feeling slighted, as though my family “owed” me more, because I had spent more than they had on gifts. This year, I’m excited about finding a paperback or two at the book store, and I’m looking forward to smelling the aroma of freshly ground beans and remembering my sister’s generosity. Given the shock of finding excitement in something utterly ordinary and the lack of guilt over feelings of greed, I think we can declare the experiment a success.