Why am I Buying This Gift?

“Dyl is participating in a gift exchange for her Girl Scouts.” Sarah was filling us in on the upcoming holiday celebrations. “They wanted the adults to do one, but we quickly said no.” I just added it to the “Must Buy” list.

“I need a gift Thursday for a company party,” Char said the other day as she walked through the front door. “No more than fifteen dollars.” It went on the list.

Teri handed me a Christmas card. “The pool guy left this. It’s tip time.” On the list it went.

I just added it all to the list and as I did, the pressure kept building. There’s Dyl’s school teacher, relatives in other states, our closest friends, the lawn people, mailman, and the list keeps getting longer every year. Some of these are a joy to buy for, such as the nieces and nephews and our dearest friends. Others I’m left doing as I grumble.

I know you’re probably sitting there now thinking I’m a cheap skate and a Scrooge, but really, I think Christmas shopping for the men who pick up our trash is going too far. Ours don’t even get out of the truck anymore! They have an automated arm that comes out and dumps the trash, a service I pay dearly for, by the way, leaving them snug in the cab of their truck. I feel the same about the pool guy. He doesn’t even write “Have a great week” on the card he leaves us on the porch telling us what he did to our pool. That Christmas card is the first interaction from him all year and that’s only because he wants something. Money. At least, he could leave me a bottle of scotch in exchange. I feel this is a one way gift. I know. You’re still thinking I’m a cheap skate. You’re probably saying it’s a reward for doing his job all year long, but to me that’s called a paycheck. Maybe if he complimented my blog once in awhile I’d reconsider. I can be bribed.

I hate obligation gifts, those pressure wrapped presents that someone else is making you buy because they thought it was a great idea. “It’ll be fun.” Buying the boss a gift at Christmas just seems like a giant suck up to me. I’d prefer if all groups just canceled their meetings during December as I’m too busy anyway, than force me to purchase another gift. Let’s just shake hands and have a cookie without the need to exchange gifts. I want to spend the money on my family and those who interacted with me more than by just leaving bills in my mailbox.

I know the office gift exchange is a tradition and there are attempts each year to soften the blow by drawing names, but it all adds up. It’s not that I’m stingy; I just don’t like being pressured into things.

“So, don’t participate,” I hear you say. Yes, you’re thoughts are coming though loud and clear. And I know you say that, but then you have to deal with the odd looks and judgmental attitudes from those who say it’s okay not to participate, but expect you to, anyway. Then they go ahead and make that holiday purchase for you with its cute little bow and now you feel guilty because your hands are empty of anything to give in return.

“We just love giving. We never expect anything in return.” No, you like making me feel like crud by proving you’re more generous than I am. I already know you are, so please hold the gift wrapped guilt trip. I have enough pressure in my life as it is.

The holidays come with an abundant amount of stress already. Don’t add more to yourself by trying to keep up with everyone else. Take care of those who matter most to you first, especially the children. Then, with what is leftover make your wisest decisions on who to buy for next. The holidays are not about gifts; they are about people. If you keep those you love at the forefront of your mind and focus on enjoying their presence, the rest will take care of itself. Make sure this holiday season it’s always people above presents and you’re sure to enjoy the Christmas season more.

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