a sense of guilt for the holidays*

I won’t minimize it and I’ll tell no lies… when it comes to Christmas, we’re extravagant.

We trim our tree, and host a feast, and gift to our hearts content…

I’ve never felt any anxiety towards the way we celebrate, until today. I was discussing holiday plans with a group of people that I work with, and I mentioned that our family members were deciding on our per person budget for gift giving over the holidays, as some of us (ahem, me…) wanted to start our holiday shopping.

It got so quiet, I’m pretty sure I could hear the crickets from the field across the street.

Please be aware that there were no amounts of money disclosed, just the simple fact that we set a budget.

The loudest and most opinionated member of our group spoke up “ You guys have budgets… I don’t even buy gifts for my immediate family. It must be nice to have no other financial responsibilities.  We just can’t afford that …”

This gave the other, less confrontational members the guts they needed to speak up.

“I would rather just spend time together, not spend money on each other”

“It seems ridiculous to buy presents for everyone, maybe you should think about donating to those less fortunate…”

This little voice inside my head echoed their statements. Maybe we should re-evaluate our gift giving…

The pacifist in me rule for about 30 seconds, and then the stubborn child my parents taught to fight for what she believes in stepped forward (which is why you’re reading this post right now )

No one has the right to make another person feel guilty about the way they choose to celebrate their favorite holiday.

What these girls don’t understand is this… Christmas is our holiday.

We don’t do much for birthdays, Easter, Thanksgiving, or any other holiday. Maybe we’ll have a nice dinner all together, a couple of hours in each other’s company, but that’s it.

Christmas is total locked down family time. We spend a few days in each other’s company. We enjoy amazing meals that we spend hours creating together. We also give each other gifts, not in the hopes of receiving in return, but in the simple joy of giving a gift. Of spending the time searching out something that is absolutely perfect for another person, in the hopes of bringing them joy and having them know that they are loved and appreciated. 

And, yes, we donate to those less fortunate. The best gift I have ever received from my little sister was a donation to my favorite cause. I’ve kept the card she wrote in to tell us what she had done, and it will always be one of my truly treasured gifts.

To me, this time we spend together, these memories we share, are worth putting aside a specific amount of money each month of the rest of the year. I do this so I can afford my “extravagance” without sacrificing my other financial responsibilities, of which I have many.

A feeling of guilt was not something I was hoping for this year, and is a gift I have decided to politely decline.