Monday, November 26, 2007


With all our Christmas shopping yesterday, I've obviously had Christmas gifts on the brain.
I had specific things I was looking for, or at least ideas for my friends and family on our list, and got most of that accomplished. I also take care of any ideas I come up with for Ryan's side of the family as well. But there are a handful that I really don't have any concrete ideas for, and being that they are in fact Ryan's family, I don't think it's too much to ask that he try and come up with ideas himself. He's perfectly willing to do that, except that the only ideas that he came up with were gift cards or a Taste of Missouri gift basket.

I get so frustrated because I take gift giving seriously... I try really hard to come up with things people will especially like or get a lot of use out of. I don't like to stick to their wish lists, I try to balance practicality and preference with what yells out to me is just so them! Ryan is all about one or the other. It's either something you know they want, even if it's boring and not a surprise, or a gift card they can use themselves. Not usually much thought put into it.
I'll admit, gift cards are much much easier with long distance gift giving. And I'll admit they are really nice to get :). But really, for me in giving at least, it's not a gift unless there's at least a little bit of thoughtfulness put into it. I mean do you even remember the gift cards or wads of cash you get for Christmas years down the road or who gave them to you? Does it make you feel like they were really thinking of you?

Christmas gifts between Ryan and I are always a challenge for me. He does really well with that actually. I have a hard time as we have a spending limit on each other. Quite a low limit. It's hard enough to find one gift under that limit, and I hate giving just one gift so I try my hardest to come up with a few things I can give him and still come in under the limit. I try so hard that I get frustrated and end up sometimes getting stupid gag gifts. Not that there's anything wrong with that; they're usually fun and maybe some sort of inside joke, but really they're only worth about 5 seconds of laugh appeal, and then they're forgotten. Do you ever give gifts like that?

In Britain, the national charity Oxfam has cannily tapped into this tendency to buy the ones we love something especially trivial and stupid at Christmas. They have launched their campaign to Speak Out Against the Horror of Rubbish Gifts. The t.v. commercial features famous-types like Helena Bonham-Carter in a funny, satirical reminder that instead of lumbering your loved ones with unwanted kitchen gadgets and singing fish, this year you can go to Oxfam Unwrapped and choose from an alternative gift range and buy fertilizer, a toilet, condoms, essential medicines or school books for communities in developing countries.

While my family will probably be getting something under the tree this year other than a toilet or tools for farming, the campaign has made me seriously look at what I *do* choose to spend my money on--if I can buy my husband funny printed boxers, why can't I give a bit to add to funding of clinics, nurses and midwives in developing countries? There's definitely room in the budget for some fertilizer and a bog... as long as I resist the dancing santa, that is...


Mom said...

I have been feeling led to give gifts of a goat,sheep,or even a well through World Vision. I recieved a gift catalog with a lot of ideas that would be very meaningful to a child & thier family.

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