On the Monday before Christmas, I will be heading to Dallas. While there, I'll celebrate Christmas morning with my daughter and her boyfriend, and spend the afternoon at a large family dinner. I'll also hopefully get a chance to visit the gals in my previous women's support group, and go to Midnight Mass at my old church. It looks as though I will be spending many Christmases as alternating holidays. One Christmas I will go to Dallas, and the second Christmas my daughter will spend with her boyfriend's family.
On those alternating years, my family here will have a small new Year's celebration to share gifts, which of course is what we did the years I lived in Dallas. Other years I could be on a cruise, in the mountains, or (more likely), in Germany spending time with my fellow retirees and friends I left behind.
Just like lots of other families, we have different gifting traditions, Here in Denver, we exchange gifts with everyone. In Dallas, the "small family groups" (such as my daughter, son, her boyfriend, myself and five dogs) will share gifts in the morning. Later, at the large gathering, there will be a drawn names gift exchange. Also like many families, we have a wide variety of incomes within the family group. Fortunately, most members of the group have a embraced a basic tenet-that all gifts to not have to be equal.
My Texas family is a perfect example , with my own core family being even a smaller microcosm of society. My thirty something daughter and her boyfriend both make more than me, and more than many retirees claim each month. On the other hand, my son is basically unemployed. This means that in our family the tradition of parents gifting the adult children, does not fit the mold. It also means that all gifting will, of course, not be equal-and that's okay. My son could end up giving his sister ten dollar cookie racks, and get a sixty dollar game in return. Some gifts will be homemade, some will not-and that is also okay. As long as the gifts are loved, wanted or needed.
The same is true further afield. One brother in law and his wife have been upper level professional types for over thirty years, with no kids or other financial responsibilities. With anther couple, the husband is a disabled vet who cannot work with a wife who no longer can work-true fixed income types. In between, there are all levels. For this gathering, everyone draws a name, looks at that person's wish list and then gifts as he or she is able. Officially, the gift exchange has a seventy dollar limit. The truth, of course, is that my unemployed son will not have seventy dollars to spend-he will probably buy one thing, and make his other gifts, and again, that's okay.
Too often we measure gifting (as well as many other things) on a tit for tat basis. I think we do much better when we give and receive with grace, rather than comparing. I mean this for both the giver and the recipient. While it's important to acknowledge the gift of someone who has given you less than you gifted, it is also important to accept large gifts with the grace that they are usually given.
Occasionally I see people running back to the store, because they bought a perfect gift, and got something much larger/more expensive. While on occasion this may be appropriate, mostly I think it leads to craziness, and a lack of contentment. The same is true on the the other end-Frannie just gave me a card, so I'm going to return this gift I bought. Not only that, but wait till it's HER birthday. Christmas giving is about, well, giving. This year, I;m going to embrace to joy and get on with it.
That said, as one who always waits until the last minute, there is a half finished scarf, a shawl, many cloth napkins, and about ten more things to be sewn. In the kitchen there are cookies to bake, conserves to make, flavored butters to roll.
It's time for me to get on the stick, don't you think?