What I don’t like about Christmas presents

I love Christmas but there are bits of it that I am about to complain about. I don’t imagine I’m the only one with these thoughts, but not many people blog about it. I appreciate a blog about baking the perfect gingerbread man or finding the perfect Christmas jumper… but I also love a different angle. I loved a blog I read about how to ruin Halloween for your children, a mother left it too late to purchase a pumpkin, managed to find a half decayed one which did not carve quite how all the Pinterest ones did and so it went on. Let’s be real.

Buying presents for people is quite fun in my opinion. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I feel like I’m a good present giver. I put a lot of thought into it. What frustrates me is that different bits of my family have a different budget in mind. In the past, I have avoided speaking up about a gift budget. But we used to receive enormously expensive gifts from my sister-in-law. That left me feeling like I had to reciprocate and spend large amounts on her, but then I have three sisters myself and I don’t like the idea of spending less on them. So it’s easy right? Buy everyone an expensive gift. Aside from the fact that that makes it all unaffordable, it leaves some people feeling embarrassed because they didn’t spend the same on their gift to you, neither could they afford to. Sigh. So in the run up to Christmas, the spirit of gift giving is squashed a bit by trying to agree a uniform spend. 

With regard to how much to spend on a present, I feel rather strongly that the emphasis should not be so great on monetary value, but thought and time. I listen to people, I think about what they enjoy. Then I look for something that will be a lovely surprise for them, or make something that is a bit more special than a spice rack from the Boots 3 for 2 gift aisle. Likewise, I would rather someone noticed that I like chocolate peppermints and make me a beautifully wrapped box of home made aforementioned treats than spend a packet on a Ted Baker hot water bottle gift set. I don’t want to give the impression that I am an ungrateful cow, but I have a hot water bottle and I do worry about the planet and the ethics, (or lack thereof) that go into some of this mass produced stuff.

The gift sets and snowman ornaments that are placed in attractive packaging under bright lights in irresistible shop windows that are absolutely everywhere, every year. None of us needs any of that stuff. People say Christmas is about buying presents for people that they don’t need and it’s about treating your loved ones to pretty things, things that they wouldn’t normally buy for themselves. But that is not quite true is it. Christmas is about a religious celebration of the birth of a child and whether we believe the story or not, millions of people get on board with the celebration. I would like to add, that I love pretty things and things that I don’t need, but getting a pile of beautiful presents is not what makes Christmas special. 

My son is two and a half, and he has got the spirit of Christmas perfectly. He is uncontrollably excited when he sees a Christmas tree. He has consumed a sleigh full of mince pies with great enthusiasm, not all in one day I might add. Yesterday we had a bit of a pretend Christmas day with family that will be away on 25 December, and my son was so excited to take a present from under the tree and take it to who it was labelled for. He was so excited to watch them open it and he enjoyed collecting up all the paper after everyone had opened their gifts. One of his favourite gifts was a puzzle that he loved and everyone had the time to help him piece it together. 

Some people feel like they have to buy toys and cars and clothes and everything that their child ever wanted to make Christmas special for their children. But children just love spending time with you. Yes they might scream with excitement as each parcel is passed to them, but we should have some thought for their future on this planet of limited resources. Look at all the stuff in the shops and take away the bright lights, the sheen on each item and picture it in six month’s time. I got a pair of wellies last year and I have worn them every single day and been on 330ish different walks. They are Hunters, a cool, British brand made in Scotland. I’ve seen the sun rise, the sun set, the seasons change, the waves on the beach, my dog catch a ball over and over… all wearing my boots. 

A couple of years a go I went to the tip on Boxing day, to recycle some boxes and things. There was a pile of Le Creuset cooking pots, with bits of Brussel sprout, boiled potato and gravy remnants inside. Someone had chucked them away! They must have got an all new set for Christmas. Why hadn’t they taken these to a charity shop? Go ahead an judge me, but I took them home. Washed them within an inch of their life, boxed up my cooking pots of far less quality and took them to a charity shop. I love my Le Creuset set, far more than a Fajita making set that I got for Christmas one year.

People need to stop spending all their money on mass produced gifts, Christmas cards, expensive ribbons, wrapping etc etc. What percentage of this all goes in the bin? Why does it seem like no one cares that they spent £30 on Christmas cards and £15 on wrapping, when that money could be donated to someone in crisis. Why does it seem ok to send a £20 M&S voucher to an ancient aunt who lives a 40 minute drive away and forgo going to see her. It’s obvious that an elderly relative would probably rather have a friendly visit and a potted poinsettia or a box of choccies. I could go on and on, I have already. It’s been a rant. I hope that even one person that did not previously consider any of this, will take on board something that I’ve written. 

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