08 December 2009

Gift exchange

I received a good-humored email yesterday from a well-meaning individual, issuing a directive to the recipients on the email distribution to refrain from purchasing holiday gifts for the sender. Even though I don’t appreciate it, I understand. It’s about stress. And codependence. Instead of controlling what is within their own span of control (eliminating unneeded accumulation in the household), the individual attempts to exert control over others by dictating how they must observe their holiday traditions. The acknowledged underlying problem is that there is too much stuff in that house already.

I’ve thought about this rather carefully and have decided to abide by the sender’s wishes with no comment whatsoever. No debate. Going down that path would not prove fruitful and would only fan the flames of temper, serving absolutely no useful purpose. It will be OK for me to simply transfer my holiday gift-giving love elsewhere.

I have a short gift-giving list and have completed most of my shopping over the last few weeks. In years past, I would select an early Saturday morning and dash out to two or three small shops, make my purchases and return home by noon with an entire Santa list fulfilled. It was exhilirating and unknown, a rare once-per-year experience. More recently, online shopping has almost entirely replaced this experience. Excitement replaced with convenience. Sort of droll, wouldn’t you say? Truth be told, I miss my infrequent visits to these special stores.

I also usually have a small list of gift recipients for whom I make something personally. A jar of salsa or loaf of coffee cake. Usually coworkers to whom I want to extend a tiny holiday hug, of sorts. With Christmas approaching more quickly than I realize, and extended vacations beginning well in advance of the 25th, my deadline for homemade gifts will be here quickly.

Today I read a clever essay by inspired blogger, Maureen over at
Island Roar about her holiday wish list. With rare exception, I always love the things I buy for others. I admit that it is not the best gift-giving strategy, but that is just the way things seem to turn out. I start with good intentions, but end up buying things that I love, perhaps more so than the gift recipient.

If I were a gift recipient, the things I would love to receive would be any gorgeous antique china dinner plate, a lovely creamer, a spool or two of beautiful ribbon, a simple assortment of linen table runners, cloth napkins of any variety, sparkly vintage jewelry, or flip flops. Maureen’s list was far more insightful and amusing.

Hopefully if my gift recipients are reading, they can begin dropping some not-so-subtle clues about the things from my list they’d prefer not to receive. I’ll try to take that under advisement.


  1. Antique china, cloth napkins, vintage jewelry....
    I don't know, I think your list's pretty special.
    Your friends are pretty lucky people!
    Thanks for the shout-out!

  2. I love to give "prizes" as I call them. I like to find that odd thing that lets my friend know I pay attention. It takes more time, but it's well worth the effort.

  3. What a great list you have...I love shopping for my family but whenever I find something I am certain they will like, I can never wait until the holidays. They do the same which is why there are many gifts exchanged through out the year and not just at holiday time. I love that my mom taught us generosity like this and yes, it is about paying attention to what others demonstrate interest in. :)