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Thread: The Christmas machine

  1. #1
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    The Christmas machine

    So “Black Friday” shopping has opened in stores, and we have begun discussing the holidays in earnest at my house. All of the family is amply (and more) supplied with stuff and has the means to provide for their own needs and most wants.

    we have scheduled the annual “journey east” which I hate, but which has been blessedly shortened to just over 40 hours with dh family (I plan to sleep through at least 16) and enriched by the promise of time with my brother and his girls.

    dd is flying east earlier in December to visit my parents and suggested I come along, but I had dismissed the idea. I thought it only made sense if I could do that instead of the family trip east (inviting dh family to visit us and most likely seeing only his parents)

    but when I called my mom to schedule she was happy she would get to see my brother and me together, but sad that there would be so much company that she would not be able to take the time to have me help her empty the attic (sorting through what to keep and what to discard - they have remodeled the first floor and included an accessible suite and a large storage room for seasonal items)

    Also my father had told her they would need to have a smaller tree this year as he suffered a minor injury putting the (live, 15ft) tree up last year and hasn’t gotten younger.

    i bought the plane ticket. Then I e-mailed my mom “merry Christmas! I will be coming with [dd] to empty your attic and put up your big tree.” My dad said he will take her out ahead of time to choose and mark the tree and then cut it when we arrive so as to make the best use of time.

    So far, so good.

    what are you doing to keep your holiday focus where you want it?

  2. #2
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    That is awesome CL! I miss my parents a lot so enjoy them while you can. We stopped giving gifts about 10 years ago to friends, etc. I still give one to my sister and I usually give my kids $ or a gift card to somewhere they want to go or we take them out to eat before the holidays. On xmas eve my dil makes a traditional Polish xmas dinner which is delicious. It is a fun evening.

  3. #3
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    DS comes up with good gift ideas for various family members so all I have to do is pay. I am not attending the company holiday party which although free admission would have various hidden costs (gas, coat check tip, clothing), serve tempting foods outside my diet, and be more formal than I enjoy.

    My biggest challenge will be avoiding the sweets at the office.

  4. #4
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    We have never exchanged with friends (aside from the annual swap of leftover cookies with the family we gather to sing with every year)

    our family list has been thinned to my parents, dh parents, gift cards for dh 5 nieces and nephews under 18, our (now 6) kids, and heart grandson.

    So, mom is done. Dad is a challenge, in laws are not my problem. i want to do one or two nice gifts for each kid (already bought one) plus stockings, which are mostly fun/practical/edible. Heart daughter will give me some ideas for her boy. I generally facilitate some activity or skill he is focused on. (A tool kit, ice skates...)

    i also want to take gifts for my brother’s kids since I will actually see them this year!

  5. #5
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    I finally reached Peace with myself at holidays. The hoopla was never me, yet the obligation pit was so huge I could never fill it. This is the 3 Christmas without Mom the over the top holiday person. I struggled with what to do for dad who has always said he hated the crap. He tossed everything holiday out first after mom passed, yet I still tried the first year to decorate. I Realized he was serious. I felt bad yesterday but I did not drive over for thanksgiving as it was just another day for him.

    We helped out son and his wife out last year and I wrote a cardboard card that said Happy Everything, no gifts for 6 years. Other son is disability and our love and support are enough. Husband says every day is Christmas to him. So we are all past materialism. Never exchanged with anyone else.

  6. #6
    Senior Member rosarugosa's Avatar
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    I've really been successful in dialing it back over the past several years. We picked up a few tins of cookies at Costco for hostess & work party gifts, and I bought a bunch of amaryllis bulbs (but cheaped out this year and bought them at Ocean State Job Lot instead of the usual nursery, so will see how quality compares). It looks like all the work-related gift giving is about to go away, so that will save me about $150.
    Mom usually takes me, DH and DSis out to dinner sometime around xmas, and we all pay for Mom's cell phone for the year.
    If we go to niece's house on xmas eve with DH's family, they usually do a "Yankee Swap." I've decided I will not participate in any more of these swaps since I invariably end up with something that goes straight into the donation box.
    I still have some of my old lists and there were years when we spent well over $2000 on holiday shopping. Now it is closer to $200, which is much more reasonable, especially for a holiday I don't really even like.

  7. #7
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    DH's family always bought cheap crap for everyone (which drove me nuts). 20 or so years back, I got them to a "name draw" for several years. Then about 10? years ago got them to stop that! Win!!!!

    My family is big and growing. When I was 14yo we started drawing names. Everyone buys for only 1 person. I'm 56...we still do this. DH gives me the same thing every year (gift cert to my fave quilt shop) and he gets the same thing every year from me...a trip to our football team's bowl game.

    I am contemplating driving 2 miles to get a black friday deal on quilt batting. They opened 8 minutes ago. AM I too late?

  8. #8
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    This year our friend of excessive gifting will be out of state for two weeks at peak holiday time. I am hoping, surely, this will cancel any gifting extravaganza.

    I have a couple of presents wrapped and ready for DH, more than I usually have. This is all!

  9. #9
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    We started dialing down the holidays last year, and it was GREAT. So much saner. And this year, I'm going to propose we simplify even more. One son's wife was unemployed for a few months (she just got a job); one son's wife is having a baby; one son is unemployed; and my daughter has a financial management coach because she can't make ends meet and she's relying too much on credit cards. And we're considering buying another house. So NONE of us is fit to be spending. We're spending Christmas together and that's good enough for us. I'll probably make everyone a Snapfish calendar with family photos, as I have done in the past.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

  10. #10
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    I have to admit when I was working the holidays just meant extra work for me and always being away from home so I got conditioned to a hohum attitude which my kids and wife understood but still wished I had “The Spirit”. My youngest son always put up lights.....which I hated....and then after New Years it fell to me to take them all down and pack them away......which I double hated.

    I usually had one guaranteed explosive arguement with the wife every year. It was the day she decided to put up the tree. I grumbled plenty about it because it meant getting the damn box down out of the attic, all the accompanying decorations...and there are hundreds of them, untangling the tree bulbs, everything had to be just so. Have you ever disagreed with doing something but every year had to be the major force behind getting it accomplished?

    Every year a fight, every year an apology. That’s what the start of Christmas was for the longest time. And then we downsized.....well, I downsized, the wife came along for the ride. I got her to throw out half the Christmas crap. Moved into a condo and downsized our tree. Now, the mess is perfectly manageable even by a grinch like me. One little plug in plexiglass snowman by the front door and that’s it.

    But this year, this year is the greatest gift. This year.....no tree, no decorations....I board a plane and fly to my youngest son’s Texas home for the holidays. I’m planning on going out and buying a ton of lights and decorations and putting them out on his porch and lawn and on his house. And then I’m flying home and leaving him the mess.

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