At the end of the Christmas season, Hubby and I realized something quite special. For the first time since we have been collectively giving gifts to his family, we gave more than we received. And we were ecstatic that it worked out this way.
Every year at Christmastime, his family dotes on us whatever we ask for during the year. We entailed many Christmases of digital cameras, Kitchenaid mixers, pot, pans and lots and lots of coats, sweaters, shoes and cute ensembles. There have been lots of other wonderful items that dance in my head every time I see or use them. My In-laws are generous and loving people, who have an addiction to over-spending at Christmas, and they don’t care.
But this year, there was no extreme spending. The gifts were thoughtful, memorable, but few. Instead, the meals were plentiful, and we ended up spending lots of time admiring the gifts that were given and even playing board games and coloring paper dolls(yes, you read that right….this was the highlight of the holiday!).
I will always remember the moment that Hubby and I realized that while everyone was done giving out the gifts they purchased, we weren’t even close. Everyone’s eyes lit up even more with every “extra” gift we passed out. The adults were the most surprised; every year we struggle to find gifts for them but this year was a bit different. We knew that we had to pick items that came from the heart, but didn’t bust the budget. There were no credit cards to fall back on this year; Christmas was tightly budgeted and once it was gone, that would be it. I must say, we did an excellent job.
The favorite gifts? The ones that bought all the adults back to childhood. Hubby’s uncles received remote controlled helicopters from us, and Hubby’s favorite Aunt received a collector’s set of Star Trek pez dispensers. All family members of voting age received a funny political gift(a lump of coal from “Santa” a.k.a. Maverick) and even Hubby received a big box of his favorite chocolate candy(Mr. Goodbar, anyone?).
Sonny got my favorite types of gifts….books, books, and more books! He also got a new winter wardrobe and a cute remote controlled robot. The cutest gift? A “baby monkey” backpack from Build-A-Bear.
The fact that we only ended up spending 262 dollars for 13 people this Christmas(this included Hubby’s and my gifts to each other), helped me discover that being frugal is not only wonderful for my immediate family, but for our extended family as well. If we would have had no set budget, we would have spent on items just to spend. No thought, nothing heart-felt. The most expensive items would have been purchased just to say we gave them for Christmas. I believe it was the same for Hubby’s family this year. Because we all are going through this downward economy, we all knew that each dollar counts, so each gift had to make an impact.
It also showed us that the holiday is truly about family. My mother-in-law said that her favorite gift from us was the note that Hubby wrote to her, inviting her out to lunch with him the day after Christmas. We made sure to give her the note last and she burst into tears when she read it. Hubby and I decided that we’ll make that a tradition every year now, since she never gets to spend time with just him. We all sometimes forget how important it is to just spend time with your family, and how inexpensive a gift it can be.
Hope you all had a wonderful Holiday and are anticipating the new year!