A Jackpot Liquor Dispenser and Ceramic Cat Frame

My husband and I don’t exchange Christmas gifts – with each other or with our families.

It all started several years back. Christmas morning, we opened a gift from my husband’s aunt, a recovering alcoholic. Opening the box, I swear a puff of smoke escaped, as if she had exhaled into the box, quickly taped it up, and sent it on its way from Boston to Texas. Inside was a lovely liquor dispenser in the shape of a slot machine. Yes. You read that right. The idea was that you pull the handle, and liquor would pour out where coins would emerge. It made a fantastic White Elephant gift the next year.

Then later, I opened a gift from my sister. It was a ceramic cat, with a 1″x1″ picture frame attached via spring to its paw.

All I could think was, “It’s like, you don’t even know me!”

The rest of our family would ask ahead of time for us to put together a list. So, we’d make a list with links to Amazon or at whatever store that they could purchase the item.

When we thought about it, it wasn’t much better. Sure, it takes the stress out of holiday shopping, but still doesn’t really seem to be part of the “Christmas Spirit”. It actually seemed so selfish.

One year, when he was a teenager, my husband and his brother decided that instead of buying each other gifts, each would buy himself a gift, wrap it, and put his brother’s name as the gift giver. Distributing a list with links to online stores doesn’t seem that far off from the stunt they pulled.

Additionally, if you are anything like me, you probably don’t need much. You go out & buy what you want, when you want it. You have to make stuff up when anyone asks what you’d like. In general, we don’t need any more stuff.

Now, that’s not to say that we don’t buy gifts for people. We do. But when we do, we try to give them experiences – things that create memories. Not things that you have to dust. Concert tickets, dinner out at a fantastic restaurant, iFly, Horseback Riding. When my sister in-law got married, a ride in a hot air balloon. Those are the things people will remember. Not a ceramic cat.

When some people hear that we don’t exchange gifts, they think its sad. I’m not sure why. I know my family loves me, and they know that I love them. We don’t need presents to reinforce that. But honestly, without the stress of stepping foot in a mall, or having to “find the perfect gift”, we are much more able to actually enjoy the season. We can say “Yes!” to those things that we want to do, without wondering in the back of our heads, “When am I going to be able to do all this?” I think we are able to *gasp* enjoy the holidays.

Okay, so you might not be able to go cold turkey like we do. But maybe try to buy (and do) less. Ease into it. You might stress a little less this year.