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Robin Duquette

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Robin Duquette

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Simply Christmas Series - Reducing Gift Giving
By Robin Duquette   

Last edited: Sunday, November 30, 2003
Posted: Friday, November 28, 2003

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I am glad I took the odd ball leap and suggested to my family that we simplify the holiday gift giving. I am finding that I enjoy Christmas so much more than I did in years past. There is no pressure to “perform”. There is no test of shopping duration and endurance, there is no competing with and keeping up with the Jones. I love it!



This morning I shopped for Christmas gifts. My list for today consisted of items for Brook, Brittany, Desiree, Aliesha, Chelsy, and Dylan. All nieces and one nephew, ranging in age from 3 to 14. I don’t shop for the adults in my life at Christmas time anymore. That tradition been thrown out the door in my very successful and rewarding attempt to simplify the Holidays.

It all began just about 6 years ago with my realization that I already have what I need and want in the way of material “stuff”. In fact, I had more than my share of stuff, and I was trying to not accumulate more of it in order to maintain a life of inner and outer simplicity. Being already quite warm, dry and fed, I basically really lack for nothing. And no, I am not a millionaire, far from it. But this holiday realization (or revelation or awakening) continued on as I noted the numbers of people in the stores after the holidays who return gifts they received, in exchange for something other.

I began to calculate the time and energy and thought (or lack of thought since the gift had to be returned in the first place) the giver of that gift probably spent at the store and then the time it took to actually GET to the store. Now also take into consideration the time the receiver of the gift spends to return the gift and then pick out something else. (If they can find something else they want.) Oh and let’s not forget the waiting in check out and merchandise return lines. Would it not make so much more sense if we just bought what we wanted or needed for ourselves at Christmas, and if others did the same? Think of the time and resources (like gasoline) saved and the traffic and store congestion that would be avoided! This would also mean, less stress. Imagine!

It seemed really logical, and actually, it seemed almost brilliant as I began suggesting to my family, that we buy for the children only. One day just before the holidays I told my dad, “When you are in the store, and you see something you would like, buy it! Then you can consider it a gift from me. And I will do the same for you! “ He liked this idea really well as he was soon to be fully retired and looking at a fixed income. I am 43! My parents do not need to keep buying me Christmas gifts!

My husband’s family in the short meantime maintained the holiday tradition of name drawing, rather than everyone exchanging gifts with each other. Which was nice, except that once they were notified of the person who’s name they drew, they would then call to find out what that person needed, or would like, and this often included the informational exchange of clothing color and sizes and even of where to purchase the item. It seemed to me, that it would be a lot easier, if we just bought for ourselves, since we knew so well what we preferred in the first place! I went out on the a limb one day and suggested that we not continue the name drawing. I was a little worried that someone might balk, and think of me of the Grinch that stole
Christmas but everyone actually seemed somewhat relieved. It was one less thing for everyone to do in already full plate lives.

I work full time, and so does my husband. We both have hobbies and interests and through out the year, if we really want something, we buy it for ourselves. It just began to seem like something “other” than the notion of generosity was operating in the realm of holiday gift giving. Something else was telling us we had to shop at this certain time of year.

I do limit my spending on the children even. My own two grown boys I spend a fixed amount on and they usually just like to get the cash because they have specific things in mind. The nieces and nephews I spend only $10 each on. I know that does not sound like much, but considering that their parents already purchase the things they REALLY want, and the larger items, I am fine with giving something smaller and my wallet feels fine with that too. I have gotten some really cool things for $10. Really! Once the kids reach 16 years of age, I think it’s time for them to not expect holiday gifts from the Aunts and Uncles, so my husband and I use that as the cut off point.

As far as purchasing gifts for each other, he and I do not feel pressured to buy anything unless we happen to see something we both want together, which is rare. Last year I really needed new cross country skis, so my husband did purchase those for me but we went together and I picked them out. (You really have to be fitted for skis anyway.) Last year I purchased a special hunters backpack that he wanted. Normally for him I like to order a couple nice shamie shirts with an embroidered wild life emblem on the front shoulder. This year though he has enough of those particular shirts, and he has bought all kinds of hunting gear, and a camera so I probably won’t buy him anything. He tells me he does not want me to anyway, that he does not need or want anything. Recently I purchased this new laptop computer that I am using this very moment to write this article, so there really is not anything I want at this moment. In past years he has purchased jewelry for me, which I pick out, and he is very generous but I now have enough gold and gems to wear. (And enough is enough.)

I give an amount of money to charities and local projects for families in need around the holidays. There is food shelf donations and projects for warm winter clothing. I’d much rather do that than pick out gifts that others don’t really need or want. I’d rather break the cycle of walking blindly along, in a sort of hypnotic shopping trance through the malls and superstores, buying when there is already more in most people’s lives than they have time or room for. And then there is the stress for some, with lack of funds, who feel they must buy gifts for others! Others might rack up a huge credit card bill in an effort to go along with the mainstream. STOP! You don’t have to do it!

(Of course, you should note that this is all coming from a woman, who is not in love with shopping, or gets a high from spending.)

I am glad I took the odd ball leap and suggested to my family that we simplify the holiday gift giving. I am finding that I enjoy Christmas so much more than I did in years past. There is no pressure to “perform”. There is no test of shopping duration and endurance, there is no competing with and keeping up with the Jones. I love it!

(I have several more Christmas season topics I’d like to pick at here at Authors Den, so stay tuned.)

But for now; with the shedding of the Christmas shopping craze, and the expectation, more time and energy is left for simply enjoying time with family and friends.


Reader Reviews for "Simply Christmas Series - Reducing Gift Giving"


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Reviewed by E T Waldron 12/1/2003
I enjoyed your article. I think it's great that you simplified the holiday, which would make it happier for everyone, if they did the same. Thank you for sharing!
Reviewed by Robert Williams 12/1/2003
This is a very wise advice from Robin Duquette: "I give an amount of money to charities and local projects for families in need around the holidays. There is food shelf donations and projects for warm winter clothing. I’d much rather do that than pick out gifts that others don’t really need or want".

Thank you for sharing it and reminding us that humble Jesus focussed his ministry on those in need. He had no more opportunities than the poor had.

The example and spirit of Giftmas promotes pride, love of display and indulgence. Yet Jesus came to this world in humility.


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