Call me a Scrooge, but I refuse to buy Christmas presents this year. After years of spending copious amounts of money (and building up a lot of credit card debt) to pile gifts under the tree, I'm putting my foot down. The only people getting presents this holiday are the ones who wear diapers -- even I'm not cruel enough to deny kids the fun of receiving packages on Christmas.
I'll blame my overzealous gift-giving habit on my dad. Always generous, we would receive a bounty every year, including computers, jewelry, bikes and one year, a horse. Yes, a real horse was delivered to our front door. My father was of the "I'll spend money even if I don't have it" mentality, reasoning that he'd figure it out eventually. He always did make ends meet, even if there were tough times (and at the expense of my mother's budgeting patience). Dad was the most excited out of all of us on Christmas morning: always the first out of bed, anxious to start opening gifts and delighted to see our faces when we discovered what Santa had left for us.
As the years have gone by, I realize that I've inherited his joy of giving. Working in the fashion industry I had access to sample sales and could buy my mom and sister Chanel bags and Fendi shoes at deeply discounted prices. I loved seeing their thrilled reactions when they'd open their gifts.
The problem is that we have now set very high standards for gift-giving. Each year, the bar has been raised higher and higher and I simply cannot afford to continue. So, much to my sister's dismay, I asked that we do a secret Santa this year and only buy one gift for that one person. A few weeks ago, we drew names and now each have one recipient to shop for. My hope is that by giving just one present, we will put time and thought into finding one item that really speaks to the recipient. I have a friend whose family only gives books as presents -- one considered tome for each member of the family. I hope my family will put the same amount of consideration into the carefully selected items we are giving one another. And if they're not happy with their gifts, well, at least they've been warned.