1. This holiday is expensive, yo!
Gifts are a way to hand someone a scaled down physical representation of your bigger feelings. Just as the word ‘tree’, or even a picture of it, doesn’t really capture the real thing, so is your gift meant to be a symbol that you care; it isn’t meant to match up leaf for leaf (or dollar for dollar).
2. But my kids would be so disappointed if there aren’t a zillion presents under the tree!
Seriously, though, I get it. You want to create a BAM! factor Christmas morning for your kids. Lots of presents under the tree feels like magic. Who doesn’t want to give their kids magic? Bad parents. That’s who.
But, after the Christmas carnage is over, how many of those presents are either trash or shoved into the back of the closet within a month? What you’ve created is a future trip to Goodwill for yourself.
If your kids are upset, just explain to them that Santa was watching and he was disappointed in their behavior all year... especially their ungratefulness.
3. I can’t find the perfect gift!
Regardless, the best way to deal with this issue is to give handmade. This sounds self-serving, but, as someone who not only makes gifts, but who goes to craft shows and Etsy shops to buy things handmade by other people’s hands, I’m here to tell you, the more human involvement in an item, the better it is.
4. I'm out of time!
Here’s the thing: you are not going to find the perfect, handmade, soul-feeding gift on Christmas eve. Rushing to the mall and panic shopping is not the answer. If time is up and you aren’t finished, let it go. Either shorten your list of giftees or get gift cards and move on with your holiday.
“But, Heather, I can’t give my mother (sister, wife, girlfriend) a gift card.” Really? She wouldn’t love a bouquet of gift cards from her favorite places to eat and shop? Do it, and if it doesn’t work, well, there’s no pleasing that woman so just give up trying.
5. I’ve baked 80 batches of cookies, sewn 15 quilts, knitted 24 pairs of socks and hot glue gunned 40 ornaments and I bet those ungrateful bastards (aka loved ones) won’t even appreciate all the effort I’ve put into this!
The point is, you don’t have to do it. Any of it. You can decide RIGHT NOW to be a gift card person. Or even a person that only does gifts for her immediate family, or not at all. Done. You’re welcome.
That said, if my good friend ever decides she’s done, (*please don’t be this year*, *please don’t be this year*) my holiday won’t be ruined and I won’t think less of her for not spending hours upon hours of her holiday season in the kitchen. If I did, I wouldn’t be the kind of friend that’s worthy of perfect caramels.
6. These stupid Christmas cards are an expensive hassle!
7. I need to make traditions for my kids like I had or there will be no magic at all!
I do the advent calendar. I buy store bought candy (Little gifts? Yeah, right.) and sometimes I forget to fill the drawer before I go to bed. (I filled all the drawers at the beginning of December once... ONCE.)
It turns out, the best tradition is the one where you are cheerful and relaxed for the Christmas season. If, in an effort to make Christmas perfect for everyone else it is ruined for you, well, that’s a crappy tradition, and it’s one you certainly don’t want to pass on to your kids.
Just like oxygen on an airplane, you need to put on your own Christmas cheer before you can help those around you with theirs. Merry Christmas, you guys, and thanks for reading. Your attention is a lovely gift.
**Picture of calm chicken is a pastel drawing my mother did for me for my birthday. Because she gets it.