Greeting card from Knockout.
My dad is coming out to California to visit me and my brother, Michael, at Thanksgiving. He lives in Florida, and is often cold when he comes out here. I was talking to him just today about the upcoming trip. “Bring some of those nice sweaters Michael’s given you,” I said.
And that seemed to remind him of something he’d meant to say. Let’s stop exchanging gifts, he said.
He said he still wanted to recognize special days, but thought a nice card was plenty. And I immediately agreed. Dad’s not in an acquiring mode — and the few things he decides he does want, like an iPad Mini, he goes and buys for himself. (Dad has become quite a fan of Facetime.) And I'm not in much of an acquiring mode, either — and like Dad, I buy the things I need.
This follows a pattern I’ve established with most of my friends. If something screams “Karen!” or “Helen!” or another friend’s name to me, I get it — and there’s a decent chance I’ve made a good guess. And I might do that at any time of year. None of us feels any pressure to get one another gifts just because it’s Christmas or a birthday.
And I know my dad and I are not the only ones who are moving in this gift-skipping direction.
Dinah Sanders has a lovely post on the subject on her Discardia blog. Here’s a short excerpt:
I tell you, holiday gift buying is optional. It is possible to have a happy family gathering without breaking the bank. You can have a blessed season without shattering your peace of mind. You can make it the season of giving without it being the season of shopping.Mary Robinette Kowal writes about believing those who say they don’t want gifts, and honoring that request. Again, I recommend reading the whole post, which includes this:
You don’t have to buy presents. Really. You just don’t have to. Most people don’t need more stuff and no one needs more debt. ... There are lots of alternatives to the holiday shopping madness, many other ways to remind people you care about them. ...
Each year now as I enter my holiday vacation time, it’s clear that the biggest gift my family has given each other is freedom from obligation. The real gift and the real focus is being together. We have traded presents for presence.
My grandmother is 107. She doesn’t want anything. My desire to give her a gift is really just because I want to have a tangible way of saying, “I love you and I thought about you.” So, I call her instead. I write her letters instead. I do not crowd her tiny house with things she doesn’t need or want.If you really like giving gifts, and the people you give them to like receiving them, then by all means go ahead. I have plenty of non-clutter gifts to suggest. But if you'd like to focus your holiday energy on something other than gift-giving, that’s OK, too. Make the choices that work for you and your loved ones.
Me? I’m off to find the perfect birthday card for my dad’s December birthday. Maybe even two.