xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

It's about this time every year when you start feeling bad about your history of conspicuous holiday consumption, and you vow to reform your gift-giving habits.

You decide that experiences are more valuable than jewelry, and you gather everybody for pizza and a movie, or you take the little ones to a holiday train garden display.

Advertisement

You decide that everybody has everything they need — or they can buy it themselves — and you gather everybody and hike into the snow-covered woods to feed the birds.

You decide to give everyone on your list "consumables," like jams or wine or jars filled with the ingredients for 15-bean soup. Stuff that they won't need to find a spot for, like knickknacks or a sweater.

Advertisement
Advertisement

(Except for the jar filled with the ingredients for 15-bean soup. They will need to find a spot for that because they won't ever get around to making it.)

Or you buy a goat for an African family living in poverty in honor of your 20-something kids, who thought they were getting a check.

And you tell every family member who asks, "I don't need a thing. Just seeing you is enough for me." (Whereupon you give the gift of guilt.)

I keep hinting that they could all go together and get me a kayak. No. That's wrong. I keep telling them to go together and get me a kayak. But instead I get gift certificates to nail salons. Isn't anybody listening to me when I talk?

Certainly the Internet — and free shipping — have made holiday shopping simpler. You can have the purchases gift-wrapped and delivered. But just because you are shopping in your bathrobe with a glass of wine next to your laptop doesn't make the decision-making any easier.

True story: I once gave my son the exact same green polo shirt two Christmases in a row. "You never change," he said. "Apparently, neither of us do," I said.

At least this Christmas, I won't be having another tearful telephone conversation with those nice ladies at Harry & David, who were happy to send some fruit and sweets to that boy in Afghanistan. He is stateside, and I can just get him a nice polo shirt.

Every year since they were born, I have been buying my two nieces Christmas ornaments, which their mother is keeping for them until they have their own homes and their own trees. They are in their 20s now and by my count, there are close to 50 ornaments jammed in some closet in their poor mother's house.

I was much smarter with my kids. When they married, I let them select 25 or 30 ornaments from my extensive collection. I not only looked like a generous mother who treasures traditions, but I also got a lot of Christmas stuff out of my basement.

I give my daughter and my daughter-in-law identical gifts to avoid looking as though I am playing favorites. And I don't like buying anything off my son's list, which I refer to as his "list of demands."

My husband is impossible. For weeks before Christmas, he wonders around the house saying, "I just thought of something people can get me for Christmas, but I forget what it is."

He says this until, like, 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve, by which time I have already purchased the same thing I give him every year: a nice plaid shirt and a sweater vest.

Unlike my son, he is always so grateful for my duplication. But that's because I don't think he remembers what I got him last year.

Speaking of memory, it is only on Dec. 26 that he begins to recall all the nifty gift ideas he couldn't remember. That's OK. He's a sportswriter and can't be expected to focus on something as trivial as a major family holiday during the furious finish of the National Football League season.

This year, both my son and daughter are married and so begins the sharing of the holidays. I'm not sure whether I am getting Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and to tell you the truth I don't care. I could be relegated to Twelfth Night and it would be OK.

Just seeing them is enough for me.

Twitter.com/SusanReimer

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement