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Thoughts on Holiday Season? Love/Hate


Walking-Iris
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Okay, let's be honest here. Who feels a love/hate relationship with the whole holiday season?

 

Every year I feel happy and excited and depressed at the same time. (Not like sad depressed just frankly disappointed and sometimes even pi$$ed--dollar signs intended.)

 

I like the story and history and tradition behind Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I like the Christian element, I like the older elements, I like the ancient pre-Christian elements. I even like the Hannukkah elements!! I like the warm, cozy feeling I get watching It's A Wonderful Life by tree light. I like the crafts. I like the food. I like the stories (Christmas Carol, Night Before Christmas etc), I like the music. I like the spirituality behind harvest and midwinter celebrations.

 

But every year this Black Friday mentality is taking over more and more. Not in my life, but in my extended family's life, friends, and just society in general it seems.

 

Example; I made a wreath for Thanksgiving and the kids helped make paper leaves to pin on it. The idea was for everyone at T-Giving dinner to write what they were thankful for and pin it up. This was done in a completely secular way. We had never done anything like this before. I was just trying to bring "something" to our T-giving gathering. My BIL's 12 year old step-dd said (rather rudely for a 12 year old talking to an adult imo) that she didn't "believe in God." Okay I didn't say anything about "God." My SIL just groaned and walked out of the room. My dh's aunt just looked at me like i had two heads. My FIL looked mad. My BIL made every kind of dumb joke he could think of to pin up.

 

I didn't make some kind of presentation or big deal. Just "hey we made this and thought it would be fun if we all put up what we were thankful for." Really? I was really upset that just asking them what they were thankful for caused such an uproar!

 

And then I had to endure the rest of the evening of my BIL and SIL dominating the conversation with their Black Friday plans and who wanted what and where it was sold---complete with constant online checks of their phones and iPad. Some of that while we were eating. And half of it not for gift purposes but for themselves just because "it was a good deal."

 

And then like every T-giving, the calls (g-parents, great g-parents, BIL/SIL and an aunt and adult cousins were at dinner) for "what everyone wants for Christmas" started. I hate being told what my niece and nephew would "want"--is that wrong? I feel like that's not the point!!! I hate them asking me what my kids want (i don't even really ask my kids what they want!!!)---I always try to steer the conversation by saying "whatever you feel like" or "sure that's fine" but my heart isn't ever in it!!!

 

Is it wrong that I want gifts to be because I (and they)thought about them and what they may like and not just gone out and bought what they "told" me they wanted. After a few years it all just starts to seem like this is a holiday where everyone feels entitled to ask, want want want, and someone has to get it.

 

Anyway--and then I feel like I want go home, make hot chocolate, listen to old Christmas carols and read Dickins under my quilt and just leave the mad materialistic greedy world to themselves until it's all over. I'm trying really hard to inoculate my kids from this mentality.

 

And feeling frustrated that every time I attempt to bring some tradition or meaning to our family gatherings it just flops.

 

I swear one of these years I'm going to donate money to some charity in everyone's name, or sponsor a baby polar bear or something!!

 

Am I wrong? Is there really no meaning left at all? Is it just about getting new stuff?

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:grouphug: :grouphug: You had a rough day yesterday! And your family was very unkind. I would have loved and appreciated the craft. We always include thankfulness at our Thanksgiving dinner in some way and I'm an atheist. Believing in a deity doesn't have anything to do with being thankful.

 

I don't know what to tell ya on the present front. I hate Black Friday for the same reason. But, as an extended family, we do exchange names as Thanksgiving because it's easier. And we do include a list of 4-5 things that we would like/need. It helps people who are gift challenged. With my ILs I put so much thought and energy into gifts. I coordinated them by year. So one year, I got everyone new bath towels that matched their colors. I checked and researched, packaged them creatively. And was met with an "oh. towels." I would have loved a thoughtful gift that matched my bathroom colors! I would have known that it was thoughtful. They were the ones that stopped at the CVS and got me a $1 pack of face scrub for Christmas. Really. I don't care about the gift. It was the (lack of) thought that hurt my feelings. In their case, I wish they would have asked.

 

I'm so sorry they hurt your feelings. That was very mean. I hope you find joy in preparing for the season in your own way! :grouphug:

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I am also feeling this way. My children and our family (including extended) are grateful and not expecting too much (since we are all broke). But I see people lining up for sales in the middle of Thanksgiving day and the consumerism of Christmas has me worried and angered.

 

I cannot fully express my feelings since I am just now working through them.

 

I want us to be appreciative of what we have, our relationships with each other and God. I want to get off the wheel of having to constantly need the "latest" and "newest" and be satisfied with "enough" ( we generally are, but I feel the pressure and yes the desire to have more and better). I just got off the phone with DH and we are seriously considering giving nothing for Christmas (our house-- we would give stuff to our external family).

But I want to spend the season playing and doing things together, without having to pinch pennies and minutes in order to do everything.

I want to enjoy this time of year again.

I want to take back my holidays.

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I definitely have a love/hate. My SIL and her family LEFT our thanksgiving get together to go get deals at Walgreens and then came and took naps so they could go out later shopping. And I wasn't allowed to leave without giving her a list for my kids. I hate Black Friday and you couldn't pay me to be in a mall today. Hooray for mail order!

 

I am MOSTLY ok with gift suggestions. If I ask a parent for suggestions, and someone says "whatever you'd like to do is great", I do the best I can. If someone asks for a list for my kids, I come up with something to suggest or maybe say something like "Johnny is really into sci fi books this year", as a general suggestion. I have another SIL who shows up with whatever they picked up on the way (literally) and it's usually plastic junk. I truly wish she would ask for suggestions, or we could just drop a gift exchange. I also hate being told what I should buy without asking. It's one thing asking for suggestions for a particular teen or tween. It's another completely when someone registers for their 5 year old at a store and directs you to the registry without even asking (and yes, this did happen in my family this year!). Same sibling gives my kids junk and never asks what they might be interested in. I would actually LOVE to drop the entire gift exchange with all these people and agree to go do something fun with the money, or even adopt a family. But if I insinuate any of this I get shot down.

 

I find family expectations hard over the holidays. Both sets of grandparents expect us to do certain things, plus I try to have some of our own traditions. And now my oldest is 12 and I still don't feel like we have a good groove in that regard anyway. I love the warm, fuzzy parts of the holiday. It's a bunch of work and stress to get to that point though and I don't know how to elminiate it. If anyone has tips, I'd be listening!

 

I think your wreath sounds wonderful and like a really nice Thanksgiving tradition! I can't imagine putting up such a stink about it in front of kids!? Very klassy. I'm agnostic and I wouldn't have been offended at all!

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:grouphug: I get really grumpy this time of year also for many of the same reasons. My kids have birthdays in Sept, Oct and Nov so starting in August my Mom starts asking me for lists for them for birthdays and Christmas. We have a complete disagreement about how much she should get them and what. She completely overspends and buys way too much stuff. Dh’s family is very different from mine. They do lists and are the kind of people where you ask for the receipt so you can take back the present if you don’t like it. That still bugs me after 12 years of marriage. Our nieces and nephews have only put ridiculously expensive things on their lists for the past 3-4 years (they are all teens or young adults) so we just started giving them money which makes me feel like we’re just an ATM in their eyes.

 

All that said, as grumpy as it makes me I try hard to remind myself that as much as they all bug me (and I’m sure I bug them) they are family and we are blessed to have them. They do all love us even if sometimes it’s all a bit much.

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Well, I personally love Black Friday. It is the one time a year that Mom, my SIL and I go shopping together. We enjoy the time spent waiting in lines and the actual trip together more than the "score of deals." We do have a pow wow of where we want to go after our Thanksgiving meal is over and every year our photo is taken "pre shopping." It is a precious time to me. I know some people get hateful and greedy about the day but not everyone is out there screaming "more more more."

 

gift suggestion wise: I would prefer that I purchase gifts I know my nephews would love to have vs attempting to guess. All children are so unique and in my family atleast, Christmas is the only time other than birthdays that special toys are purchased. Now, if I find something that I am 100% sure they will love; then I purchase it because it reminds me of them...I don't mind if others ask me for suggestions either due to the fact that I would prefer to have a select few toys that are loved than a million that are abused, neglected and unwanted....I would just try to focus on the thoughtfulness of them asking.. it is still a thought of kindness and in my book still counts! :)

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it's not you, it's them.

 

There's this priest's blog I read, and he was telling a story about officiating a wedding. It's a solemn thing, and this family comes in all jokey and mocking the church and he starts to get a little irritated because it's turning into something not good. So, priest sits everyone down and tells them the history of marriage in the church, what it means, it's a serious, respectful occasion and let's do this thing right, ok?

 

During the ceremony, which is fully Catholic, the mockers start crying at how beautiful it is.

 

See, it's scary, being emotionally honest, even in front of family. It's easier to mock and tease, to keep things at arms length. Cynicism is armor.

 

So, it's not you, it's them.

 

Tradition is how we keep our culture alive, it's how we deepen our roots and how we know who we are. Those are scary things to people who have none of it. Being that way is counter cultural right now. But someone has to start. :grouphug:

 

Can you imagine what your kids will think when you've made 20 wreaths, and kept all of the leaves and each year read them together to see who was there, what you were thankful for, where you were in life, how you've all grown and shared? That will be a beautiful thing. Be brave, do it again for your own family next year, and even if they mock, YOU take it seriously and show them how to do it.

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But I want to spend the season playing and doing things together, without having to pinch pennies and minutes in order to do everything.

I want to enjoy this time of year again.

I want to take back my holidays.

Oh, I do agree!

 

I am very lucky with my family--everyone likes to be frugal and doesn't do Black Friday, so we relaxed and played today. My husband and I are feeling the pinch, it's better now than it was when he was unemployed but we are still planning a frugal Christmas. I never go overboard on presents, but I sure would like it if I didn't have to worry about money.

 

However! I've learned that in order to enjoy Christmas I need to figure out what's most important to us and just focus on that. I don't do a ton of decorating, I don't go shopping a lot, but I make many presents and listen to beautiful music and enjoy being with my family. Stuff like that. It helps to focus on what we've got and try to tune out the icky stuff which will always be with us.

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there is meaning. some people get a different meaning - like black friday merchandise.

 

I've dreaded thanksgiving for years - not for the traditional meaning of the holiday, but for the extended family acitvity that comes with. (well, a particular and very vocal domineering person who comes with) dh is FINALLY willing to talk about doing something else next year. he finally is seeing what we've been telling him for years. (but didn't want to see.)

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I certainly liked Christmas well enough as a child, but as an adult I'm always relieved when the holiday season is over with. I really don't like much about it at all. I find too much of anything to be a complete turn off, and there's way too much of a lot of stuff during the holidays -- way too much food and consumerism, too much pressure to be part of the perfect family, create the perfect meals and parties and gifts. And yes, even too much pressure to come up with something we're thankful for on Thanksgiving. Not that I'm not always thankful for things, but I find the idea that we should be especially thankful on a particular day to be wrong somehow. I try to be conscious of being thankful all the time. FWIW, I also don't like Mother's Day for the same reason. I guess I've turned into an old crank. :laugh:

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You're not alone! I am sickened to see Christmas decorations go up THE DAY after Halloween. Some were up before! Then all the talk of Black Friday, the stampedes, bad behavior of all kinds and violence...... It has really cheapened the holiday. I refuse to buy into it. I have never once gone to a store on Black Friday. I avoid them like the plague that day. (although Mandylubug makes me wish I loved it!)

 

I do decorate big time because our family loves that. I normally do a HUGE amount of baking. But I DO NOT get all wrapped up in the commercialism of it all. I came from a VERY materialistic famil and HATED it! I am so thankful my kids aren'tlike that AT ALL.

 

Your holiday sounds kinda miserable. And your idea of the wreath was an AWESOME one for families who actually appreciate the true meaning of the holiday. Unfortunately, your family doesn't seem to care about the real meaning, and they sound immature.

 

 

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I do not like much of anything around this time of year. My family and my son's father's side refuses to accept that we do not celebrate. My son's grandmother makes such a big deal out of what ds wants for Christmas (that we do not celebrate) and then never sends anything.

 

My father and his wife take it personal that we do not get them anything. Not my problem and i refuse to let it bother me this year. I also will not allow them to visit on December 25 this year. They can come the weekend before, and no more than 2 gifts each for the kids, and NONE for me.

 

This year i am going to do stockings on December 21st for the kids, but fill it with mostly needed items like socks and undies. They will also get new snow boots, snow pants, and maybe a sled.

 

We had to go to my father's this past Thursday. It was nice to see my father and we took the kids to two parks, but i hate driving in manhattan, and absolutely despise driving home after dark. We basically were not "allowed" to leave early. It was all very fake. Someone who does not like me 364 days each year pretending to be nice just because it's a day called thanksgiving.

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I love Christmas. I don't have the issues with family because they aren't a part of our lives. If they were I certainly wouldn't put up with a lot of the crap I read about online about other peoples holiday disasters involving family.

 

For those who find it so stressful, have you ever read Unplugging the Christmas Machine? It's a really great book.

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Honestly the only people besides my own kids and dh that were receptive to my idea was my MIL and my dh's grandparents. Older generation---probably remembering the way it used to be.

 

I don't really mind the gift suggestions. My MIL likes ideas, but half the time changes course anyway. It's really my BIL/SIL who are the thorn in my side. They have two step-dds, one whom I can't even remember the name of, we rarely see her (college aged) who comes to our Xmas gathering and I have received glares from when I didn't have a gift for them. This will make our third Christmas with my BIL's new wife and already I'm dreading it. They also left T-giving to go shopping and come back later. Let me clarify, I'm told what their kids and step dds would like but I am not asked. Usually it's my MIL and the great g-parents who need ideas. I still try to be vague though. My BIL/SIL will pick up the first cheap plastic thing they find and wrap it.

 

I'm working my sewing machine and art and baking skills this year. And i don't care! I'm spending a bit of money on my own kids and they are getting some handmade as well. But I'm not buying anything else. I've already forgotten that her dd likes Hollister and Abercrombie&Fitch!!, because I refuse to be treated like this is the day everyone gets them stuff. They are very materialistic.

 

I'm not exaggerating, the words "I want" in some form came out of their mouth constantly. It got to the point that I just refilled my wine glass and went and sat somewhere else.

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I'm sorry your day turned into a day of hurt and frustration The wreath sounded like a sweet idea. It would never go over well in my extended family because we don't talk about such things...My extended family is grateful and we had a wonderful Thanksgiving but there is not that kind of intimate conversation. We do those kinds of things at home though with just the 4 of us.

 

I'm not big into black friday but I know that it is tradition for many families--it's about spending time together doing something they enjoy and getting a good deal at the same time. I feel Thanksgiving is rushed to hurry and get Christmas here. As far as asking for gift ideas we have always done that. It works for us and no one is snotty about it or asks for anything over the top. We also make family Christmas plans on Thanksgiving day because we are all together and it is easier to coordinate it then.

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cant read them all but - i am just grateful that i basically dont have extended family. everyone has given up on us - which is fine by us. I grew up jewish so I dont have any xmas memories, but dh's holiday memories involved a lot of drunk driving. My thanksgiving memories involve family tension. Dh's family is in Canada, my sister is in Boston (but we arent speaking), and my mom is in PA but she's given up on visiting us.

 

So i have managed to get to where thanksgiving and xmas are just my family . . . i make a big meal on thanksgiving . . i wanted to say something about what i'm grateful for but i didnt manage, but at least the kids looked happy in the pictures

 

xmas (not religious here, sorry) is the one day I make all of us stay off of electronics until after dinner. I try to get something we can do together (a lego kit to build, a movie to watch, sometimes even Wii games to play together, but thats rare). We nibble throughout the day and everyone gets new PJs which we wear all day long!

 

I defriended someone on fb over black friday posts. I warned all my friends that i might do more if I heard anything else indicating its not just another friday. I hate the drama, i hate the consumerism, I need peace in my life and thats what I've created!

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I don't think you're wrong, but I'll confess we live that way. It's so nice knowing the gifts I'm getting are actually wanted by the recipient. I received many gifts I had no use for before we started asking. I got a plethora of hand lotion and bath doohicky sets, and scarfs (or is that scarves) and gloves. How many scarfs can one person really wear? I have donated many to Goodwill. The bath sets sat under my sink until I got tired of looking at them and then I threw them out. My mom always likes to buy clothes for us and she buys us stuff none of us would actually wear. Those go to Goodwill too. It just seems like a waste of good money. I'm sorry, but I won't wear an ugly shirt/sweater just because it was a gift. One year my mom got ugly matching fleece jackets for me and my 2 girls. Can you imagine how horrified they were to get a clothing item that was identical to their mom's? I hated being ungrateful but I had to say something to my mom. She laughed and said she thought it was cute. Good grief! This year I begged, and actually used that word, for my mom to buy me and DH a combo gift of kitchen items like a metal spatula, a new set of measuring spoons, and a large plastic serving spoon. These are things we would actually use, almost daily. She said okay, like she always does, but I know she will go out and buy us all shirts. They are barely making it paycheck to paycheck but she's going to waste money. It makes me feel so bad. :(

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I can relate. I use to have tons of guilty and pressure for Christmas but a few years ago a few things happened with extended family on my DH side (things got out of hand) and on my side there was always pressure, the constant asking to travel 1000+miles to see Grandparents, even though I was upfront due to running a small business that tends to be busy during the hoildays we are not coming up. I still get the pressure, letters, phone calls, emails, etc. It's not like they ask 1 time and accept my answer or even just leave it open that we are welcome to come up if we want to, it's a constant marketing and guilt-trip. I gave in many years allowing my mother and sometimes my sister who was in college at the time to visit but in the end all those visits only added more to the stress of the holidays.

 

We do holidays for our kids, if it was just DH and me we've do very little besides putting up a small tree and riding around looking for lights enjoying starbucks. We tend to do give each other a few small things like under $20 each and if we do want something big we go get it ahead of time and buy it and use it and then remind our kids that is what we got for Christmas.

 

We also allow our kids to pick their own "BIG" gift. Some family members think it's crazy but DH never wants our kids to wake up on Christmas and not get what that want. We have a $ limit it varies depending on the year but it tends to be around $100 sometimes over like for my daughter who got an AG girl this year we opted for the the acc. kit too.

 

We have tub full of together gifts like games, books, and a few movies and a bag or so of individual things like a barbie dress for my daughter, a book my son really wants, etc. We try and make the 1 tub fit all the extra gifts and then each kid gets their BIG gift(s). This makes it fun and stress free and yet we don't get dragged into the crazyness. If we have to much we save it for their b-day or even give it on a rainyday for fun.

 

We also have given for years to other extended family but haven't for the past 2 with over 30+ people to give to it's too much and it's difficult to keep up with everyone moving around for jobs/kids. We give to the Grandparents something meaningful and hopefully something handmade by the kids with a picture or 2. We have gone to small box (family gift) with a puzzle or game and a few snacks for my aunt and my sister who is getting married. We don't want to buy for each person anyone so the family gift is nice. I realized this year I ended up spending more then I wanted, but I do want to reduce that next year by shopping on the sales. We don't always get a gift back from some of the family members but I don't see a good way to not give and my aunt does say she enjoys the package we send each year and it's something they look forward too, so just knowing they are happy and we've made them have a good day is worth it.

 

Other then that we try and give something to his brother/wife that has taken on the task of allowing DH mother to live in his basement full time and has for the past 5+years. They have no kids and alot of time get our kids lovely things so we like to give back to them. My DH other brother and sister we tend to not do anything with due to strained relations and weirdness with their kids/grandkids. If we are given something we do give something small back, it's just proper to me.

 

DH realize that with limited family around the hoildays we could be setting ourselves up for it when our kids get older and have relationships/their own families so we have an on-going thing we do each year locally we go to a light drive/festival and get snacks and have said that is all we want when we are older, anytime after Thanksgiving - Christmas we want to keep up the family tradition (if at all possible) with our kids, any weekend they want. I don't want my kids to have the pressure like I grew up with and still get from time to time.

 

I love the hoildays too but wish the people could just respect our choices and what the hoildays are too us.

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But see---that's my main grief with it all. I want to get people things they would want and use, I really do. So much easier to do that with my Dh and kids and a few close friends. Those people would also appreciate anything handmade I thought to make.

 

But my in-laws family will not feel that way. They want to INSURE that what they get is "something they want or can use." I don't believe that Christmas is about "getting/giving stuff that others would want or could use" especially when they are making recommendations about what those things could be. It begins to feel like a mass entitlement issue. As if everyone suddenly is required to get everyone else some thing they've coveted forever. No offense, but if I "wanted" or "needed" kitchen utensils, I'd go get them myself. I don't feel it's anyone's job to get me what I want or need just because it's Dec 25th. I am also frustrated with what seems to be a waste of money when unthoughtful gifts are picked up just to fill the gift giving requirement or quota. I can't do anything about that. I can't force people to be thoughtful or change their consumeristic ideas, but it does sour my holidays. That's the point of my OP---it just becomes love/hate.

 

I can't express it in words, but it feels off. All of it. Growing up there was never a single discussion in my family about what people wanted or needed. The adults exchanged gifts IF they really wanted to and had a particular person in mind. And there was hardly any bad feelings if a child or adult didn't get something from some random aunt. There was no obligation attached. Even today my closest family is an aunt and uncle in the next state and they always send us and the kids something, always a surprise. They would be really offended and put off if I suddenly suggested to them what we wanted. My step-mom sends the most weird box of random things imaginable. And we laugh about it when we open it, but it was truly thought about, not an obligation. Some years she doesn't. No big deal. Although i also don't have any childhood memories of Christmas traditions. Most of my family treated like another regular day. Maybe do something, most of the time not. I didn't really like it as a child mainly because of the "what did you get for Xmas" discussions at school. It seemed to be all about stuff to me back then too.

 

In my dh's family, there is obligation, complete with money envelopes and receipts saved and sometimes even talk ON Christmas day about where some item was bought and how to exchange it. I cringe when I hear that. I was NOT raised to say, immediately after opening a gift, "where's the receipt and I think I'll exchange it". I was raised to graciously say "thank you."

 

Every year it gets worse and worse. Honestly my DH and I are beyond sick of it. We live in the same town, so not going to their house for Xmas would just make more tension than necessary.

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I definitely have a love/have relationship with this time of the year. I like the fall weather but hate that Christmas is forced upon me wherever I look. It would still be Christmas without reindeer and endless music playing the same loop over and over and over. Thanksgiving is more than chocolate turkeys.

 

I love the wreath you came up with. Not sure how much my extended family would be into it but my kids would like it.

 

I discuss with them constantly that Thanksgiving has nothing to do with shopping and that Christmas is a religious holiday and that hallmark decorations, etc have nothing to do with the holiday (which we don't even celebrate).

 

I have never participated in Black Friday craziness and have no plan to. My daughter has some fantasy about me taking her to the mall at midnight but I told her it was going to stay a dream.

 

We were at the mall this morning (daughter had a birthday gift to pick up) and it was empty. The same sales were being offered and it was nice and relaxing.

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I love Black Friday and do it every year with my family. I need to save as many bucks as possible :p and it is part of our tradition. But I LOVE your wreath idea. It is sweet and they are rude. rude. rude.

 

I have family where events can turn into that kind of rudeness too. I try to avoid days with them when I know things are going to go that way. We did Thanksgiving w/some of dh's family this year and it was WONDERFUL. And we did Black Friday for an hour that evening after supper and it didn't detract from Thanksgiving at all :)

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No offense, but if I "wanted" or "needed" kitchen utensils, I'd go get them myself. I don't feel it's anyone's job to get me what I want or need just because it's Dec 25th. I am also frustrated with what seems to be a waste of money when unthoughtful gifts are picked up just to fill the gift giving requirement or quota. I can't do anything about that. I can't force people to be thoughtful or change their consumeristic ideas, but it does sour my holidays. That's the point of my OP---it just becomes love/hate.

 

 

But I don't WANT anything. My mother absolutely refuses to leave Christmas empty as she calls it. I figured kitchen utensils from Walmart was the cheapest way to go. I wish, wish, wish she would just grace us with her presence and bring a dish for a small dinner but she just won't do it. If she's going to spend money, I'd rather it be on something we will use instead of clothes that none of us will wear. It's just frustrating. And the only thing she wants is a restaurant gift card. I really hate giving gift cards. But she's so disappointed if I get her anything else. They can't afford to go to restaurants so the only way they can eat out is from gift cards they get at Christmas and on birthdays. This is one cycle of gift giving I simply cannot break. She would buy us something even if we told her we weren't going to buy gifts for anyone outside our immediate family. Talk about guilt!

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I am also feeling this way. My children and our family (including extended) are grateful and not expecting too much (since we are all broke). But I see people lining up for sales in the middle of Thanksgiving day and the consumerism of Christmas has me worried and angered.

 

I cannot fully express my feelings since I am just now working through them.

 

I want us to be appreciative of what we have, our relationships with each other and God. I want to get off the wheel of having to constantly need the "latest" and "newest" and be satisfied with "enough" ( we generally are, but I feel the pressure and yes the desire to have more and better). I just got off the phone with DH and we are seriously considering giving nothing for Christmas (our house-- we would give stuff to our external family).

But I want to spend the season playing and doing things together, without having to pinch pennies and minutes in order to do everything.

I want to enjoy this time of year again.

I want to take back my holidays.

 

A great blog post

 

First, Prepare for Advent. That's the way I've gone about refocusing my family, and it's worked.

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I'm sorry that's what you deal with.

 

That's how it use to be for us too when my family was invited to our home to celebrate the holidays. However after too many years of similar attitudes you deal with I stopped inviting them. At first they assumed they were invited and that was a very awkward year. So I made it clear the following years that we want the holidays to ourselves. I miss having family around besides just us, BUT don't miss the drama and ungratefulness that comes wi having my family around. Makes me want to be near my in-laws around the holidays!

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I love love love the holidays. :) My family is all too tight to be terribly materialistic. I preach non-consumerism to my kids and the message has sunk in well. They laugh at commercials urging people to give cars and big screen TVs to everyone on your list. That might be some people's reality but it's not ours and they know it. They have lots of family in town so they know they will get gifts but I've told them that if they woke up on Christmas morning and didn't have a single gift under the tree but they were surrounded by healthy family members that loved them, they'd amazingly blessed and lucky compared to many kids in this world. I tell them that stuff is just stuff and it doesn't make you happy on it's own.

 

That said, our extended family do nothing to undermine that message, so I'm lucky in that way. My inlaws sometimes go Black Friday shopping but not in the last few years and never very seriously. They are generous but reasonable with the gifts. My siblings and I do secret santa so we don't have to buy as many gifts. We do other Christmas traditions. Decorating and cooking too many sweets and looking at lights and watching Christmas movies.

 

My inlaws definitely have a different attitude about gifts than my family but that's something I've simply adjusted to. My MIL wants a list and she will buy off the list. She likes gifts to be practical. In my family there was a bit more emphasis on buying a gift that you knew the person loved but that they wouldn't or couldn't get for themselves. But this difference doesn't really bother me. The point isn't the gifts or why they were bought. The point is the fun and the memories we have together as a family.

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Every year it gets worse and worse. Honestly my DH and I are beyond sick of it. We live in the same town, so not going to their house for Xmas would just make more tension than necessary.

 

I know it's not easy but why not just skip Christmas and enjoy the day with your own family? Why spend a day stressing when what you want to do is to cherish the time with your family? I may be speaking out of turn but I think I could deal a lot better with the stress of not sharing Christmas with other family members than dealing with everything you have written here.

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I'm sorry. Well, I was raised Jewish. Once in a great while, my Mom would do a secret tiny Christmas in my closet (it wasn't allowed by my stepfather). My Mom is the gift giving type, but other than socks and other lame gifts where they obviously didn't even remember to get you anything until the day before (or on) Chanukah, gifts were not part of my family culture. Most of my family is too poor for that. Other than homemade quilts and one Goodwill stuffed pig, my Grandma has never even given me anything. And that's totally ok with me. I am also in it for the spirit of the season. I actually was very Grinch-like for years once I realized there was no Santa (corresponding, of course, to the religious change in the newly married family, etc.). I did Christmas in the basic materialistic way for a few years when I first had kids just because that's what they expected. But it was only after being pregnant with my Christmas Eve baby. Hormones or something, but I felt TOTALLY in the spirit and it all just clicked. Much to dh's displeasure, I am one step away from making them all Christmas sweaters and going caroling the day after Halloween. :coolgleamA:

 

But this year, it feels like the spirit was kicked out of me with life circumstances. I will be lucky to afford a box of pencils for my kids and that just stings. It feels like a daily reminder of my situation with Christmas approaching. I'm trying to get in the mood, but meh. We did a Thankfulness tree for Thanksgiving, just at home, as I know my in-laws would laugh at the very thought. They were the first family I ever had Thanksgiving with and I had never even heard of Black Friday before joining the family. They are true shopaholics. It's all about the gifts. They are wonderfully giving people, don't get me wrong. But maybe from lack of experience growing up, I am the lamest gift-giver ever. I feel totally inadequate. And I feel even worse giving them homemade cookies while they dump a pile of presents on each of my kids.

 

As for gift lists-I have an Amazon list I share with MIL. She hates it, but she will seriously call every day YEAR ROUND asking if my kids want xyz and what do they want and on and on and on. This way there's at least a way for me to keep track of what *I* plan on buying them so that we don't get duplicate gifts (that happened last year). So I don't mind sharing what they want. I do tell them that a box of cocoa mix or a $5 is more than enough, and they don't have to get them anything, by any means, but that isn't apparently ok.

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Like you experienced, I experience a disparity between what dh's family wants Christmas to be and what it means to me. They are very gift-oriented. I have gobs of nice, expensive make up sets I will never use as a result. My family is much more relationship-oriented than gift-oriented. (The issue is not with gifts, but the lack of meaningful relationships juxtaposed with gifts that people do not want or need.) Due to a rift in dh's family, we will spend Christmas day with our nuclear family only, just the six of us. (Christmas with my family has always been done on Christmas Eve.) I think it will be lovely.

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I feel the same way. I guess I look at it as practicality. I want the recipient to want the gift and I don't want a bunch of stuff that will just collect dust. I appreciate any gift, even the unwanted ones, but I really have no use for bath sets, etc.

 

Why not just make it a monetary transaction?

 

You could sit down on Thanksgiving and compare notes about how much you were planning to spend on each other. The one who had been planning to spend more just writes a check for the difference, and everyone goes home and buys what they wanted, anyway?

 

I'm not picking on you, personally, Wendy. I've just never understood the point of exchanging wish lists and telling another person exactly what to buy for you. Then, you do the same for them. What's the point?

 

I'd much rather discourage gifting at all, or try and get folks to agree to just exchanging cards (the kind you write messages in, not the plastic kind you spend) and try to learn to enjoy just being together. That seems to me to be much more meaningful. (And cheaper.)

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I think the "I'll just buy it for myself" attitude speaks more of entitlement than offering gift suggestions. We work hard to be thoughtful and also practical gift givers. I would much rather give and receive gifts that are actually wanted and will be used.

 

I think that learning the names of your new nieces should be a priority. Step-children definitey should be treated as equal family members.

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