Christmas is, as they say, around the corner and I have to be honest, as I've gotten older, I really dread this season. I know I sound like an old humbug, but I just hate what it has become. If I had small children, I know it would be totally different. But here's what it's come to be in my life:
I have a couple of brothers and a niece and nephew on my side. My brothers & I stopped exchanging years ago, when each of my brothers gave each other a gift card for the same restaurant for the same dollar amount. Instead we make sure we get together for a nice dinner during the holiday season. That works just fine for me.
On the other hand, my husband, who is younger than me (yes, I'm a cougar, me & Demi & Goldie & Susan Sarandon). He has 9 brothers and sisters, most of whom are married with 14 kids among them, ranging in age from 3-20. Every Christmas we all get together at one of the sis in laws and every child gets a gift from every aunt/uncle. And every year, I get less and less enjoyment from this. It typically goes like this: the kids can't open the presents until my sis-in-law gives the okay and then it's mayhem. They go plowing thru the gifts looking for the ones with their names on them, ripping one open, taking a quick glance and throwing it down to see what else is there with their name on it. And from all this, we get one thank you card from one of the nieces. I can remember a few years ago, I saw one of my nieces received a Game Boy & I remembered she had gotten one for her birthday a few months earlier. I mentioned that to her and her response was "Yeah, but that was the "old" Game Boy; this is the latest one."
The Christmas after Katrina, I asked the LSH his opinion about suggesting to the family that we take whatever money we normally spend on the nieces/nephews and donate it as a family to the Red Cross. I thought it would be a good lesson for the kids. But he didn't think that suggestion should come from us as we don't have kids.
This year, I contacted the in-laws who I thought would be the most open to a suggestion and asked them what did they think about perhaps just having a Secret Santa for the kids where one family buys for one child or buys a gift for that family. And they were all in for it. However, this group consisted of the sis-in-laws who married into the family. Today was a family get-together and the gift subject came up and we were shot down.
There was a time I enjoyed shopping for Christmas, buying that perfect gift and watching the look on the recipient's face when they opened it. I'm tired of giving gifts simply because I have to.
I'm seriously considering making a donation to a charity in the name of each of the families and be done with it. The LSH is not too thrilled with that idea. But, not to sound corny, but isn't that what Christmas is supposed to be about?