I don’t care how much money a family has, Christmas time can be a burdensome time – (Well, maybe it isn’t for the SUPER-RICH, but I couldn’t even try to speculate). When you are a kid, you never have to worry about being able to afford a gift for your parents because every year your school teacher sends you home with a paper-bag-wrapped memento you lovingly crafted with your own chubby little hands which has your school picture on it and the year. It becomes the ‘prized’ gift under the tree. It’s more precious than gold. As I grew into a teenager, I began to feel the pangs of my financial situation. On occasion, friends would buy me something as a gift – nothing groundbreaking or anything. I always thanked them with genuine appreciation but hated that I could never reciprocate.
This is a very true statement about the poor, little, rich, white, Mexican. I do not care if a gift costs 1 dollar or 100 dollars. If you stopped to take the time to think about me and get me something, I appreciate it the same. You know the old adage “It’s the thought that counts?” well that is exactly how I feel. I remember one time my not-yet-brother-in-law handed me a Christmas gift. Shocked, I was as happy to hold the wrapped box as I was after it was opened. It didn’t even matter what was in it (It was a dark blue V-neck sweater – for those who were wondering). For all I knew, he spent .25 cents on it at a yard sale (I’m sure that isn’t true of course) but I was utterly overwhelmed that this teenage guy would even stop for ten seconds to gift me anything at all.
This appreciation comes from growing up poor. I think that I have always understood how sacrificial it was for my parents to make Christmas a good experience in the gift-opening department. My mom did a lot of Christmas shopping at the employee store where she worked. I don’t know if employee stores exist anymore but it was reminiscent of a large gift shop with assorted sundries where blue-collar employees could purchase items at a reduced price. Perhaps there was some kind of employee store credit program where you earned “dollars” to shop with. I don’t actually know about that part. I had only been there a couple of times but even as a child, I could tell that the price tag was considerably more reasonable than any other store.
Early on in our marriage, we felt such an obligation to buy (as nice as we could afford) gifts for every immediate family member (8 parents, 5 siblings, siblings-in-law, and their children) as well as close extended family. It got to where once we checked everyone off our list, we barely had anything left over for our own children and virtually nothing for ourselves. It actually turned my hubby a little bit sour towards the whole day. One year, we decided to drastically change our gift priorities and thankfully a lot of our family followed suit. When it comes to extended family gatherings, now we mostly buy for our nieces and nephews which is fun to do and we lay pretty low on buying for our siblings, parents, grandparents, etc….. As it turns out, it is just as fun to be together on Christmas as it is to open presents when we’re together. Go figure.
For our immediate family, we have one important rule for our children: “you must spend more money on your sibling than anyone else.” We are trying to instill a brotherly appreciation at a young age and so far, it has worked out well. They WANT to make their sibling a priority and they really feel loved by each other….. J Christmas spending can still easily get out of hand, though, my husband has it pretty good, I think, being married to an “it’s-the-thought-that-counts” kinda girl. Wouldn’t you agree?