Most of us want to simplify Christmas, but we hesitate because we know everyone in our family won’t agree. Still, it’s so important to push past our fear and have these (sometimes) tough conversations about holiday gifts & get-togethers!!
A few years ago we had just finished a Christmas celebration and gift exchange, and as soon as we got in the car, I started my rant:
“Oh my goodness, did you see what they got me for a gift – a jar candle?! It was like they said, ‘What’s the most thoughtless gift we can give Dawn?’”
And as I was telling this to Tom, I was disgusted with myself – What is WRONG with me?? It’s Christmas, what am I doing?!
I had put a lot of thought and even extra money into the gift that I had given in the exchange, and it felt like they had put no thought into my gift.
I was also frustrated by the fact that I didn’t even want to do the gift exchange in the first place — WHY did I agree to it and go along with it? WHY didn’t I just stick to my guns and say no, I don’t want to do this gift exchange?
And then I felt further guilty because this is NOT what Christmas is all about!! This really isn’t the spirit of the season!
Even if I received a gift that I thought was a bit lame, I still should have been able to focus on the time that we got to spend with our friends and family and enjoy that time together.
The desire to simplify gifts
You can probably relate to this – you WANT to simplify gifts, but your mother-in-law or sister or kids or spouse won’t agree.
Of course, we don’t want to be selfish. I’m a people pleaser through and through, and definitely do NOT want to unnecessarily bring on conflict for our family. And chances are, you probably are too!
But if we just keep going along with it to make everyone else happy, we will continue to set ourselves up to be frustrated and feel resentful towards the people that we’re supposed to care about the most — our friends and family.
And I know, these conversations aren’t always easy to have!!
What about the people who value gift-giving?
I have people in my family whose love language is gifts, like my sister and my dad. So for quite awhile I still went along with the gift exchanges because I knew that it was important to them.
But I’m realizing that no material gift makes anybody happy. You can still respect their love language, but it doesn’t have to be an expensive gift. It’s more that they’re being thought of with some kind of physical action.
You could bring a favorite food or even just write a thoughtful card. It doesn’t have to be something big to honor a gifts person. You can still recognize them in meaningful ways without having a full-blown gift exchange.
Dare to speak up — others may feel the same way that you do!
I want to challenge you to step outside your comfort zone!
If there are gift exchanges or different holiday traditions that you don’t agree with anymore, or that cause unnecessary stress, speak up and say something! Be true to yourself, even if things don’t change this year.
It took at least a few years till we actually got Christmas to be more simplified, and we’ve still had to discuss it a few times since then. But it IS worth having the conversation!
There are people in my family who I didn’t expect would agree to it, and but when I sent a really tactful email about how we wanted to simplify Christmas, they replied, “I think that’s a great idea!”
What!? Was it really just that easy? I had built it up in my head that this was going to be really hard!
And of course, they might get frustrated or complain to somebody else about it or call you selfish. But you’ll never know if you don’t try!! They may even want some of these exchanges to go away too!
How to have the discussion about opting out of gift exchanges
I’m really glad that I had the courage to speak up, because our holidays have changed quite a bit and it’s been really awesome!
If you need ideas on how to have this discussion, here are some suggestions:
If you’re going into debt and spending money that you don’t have just to please someone else, it’s not right to be buying gifts for other people.
You won’t wreck someone’s Christmas if you don’t participate in a gift exchange!
It doesn’t always have to be all or nothing
There are no perfect solutions, but you need to do what is best for you and your family — whether it’s saying NO to gift exchanges or certain get-togethers, or just letting friends and family know that you want to enjoy this upcoming season, and not be stressed out over buying gifts.
You can’t enjoy the Christmas season if you continue to say yes just to make everyone else happy!
If you have talked to your friends and family and opted out of gift exchanges or found other ways to celebrate together, would you share that with us? It can be so encouraging to hear others’ stories!
A few more posts to help make your Christmas merry!
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