Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas Gift Giving Anxiety

Written By Don Shetterly
One of the things that makes this time of year so difficult is Christmas gift-giving anxiety.  I had many horrible experiences while growing up, and it makes it a struggle.

Yes, I know everyone will tell you that you give gifts at Christmas out of love.  While there is so much truth to that, there's a part that is not spoken.  Try not giving a gift to your family and see how the reaction is.   That will show you the other unspoken part.

In all honesty, though, we spend a lot of money at Christmas because we have to buy the perfect gift for our loved ones.  I think we've truly lost our way in what really matters, but trying to get the world to see that is like plugging a leaking dam with your finger.

One Christmas while I was in college, I was struggling to make it financially.  I didn't have money from parents.  I had no financial aid.  Everything I needed to pay for college was either student loans or from a full-time job I was working.  I was making it each month, but with nothing extra left over.  If Starbucks had been around then, that would have been a luxury.

This particular year, I had been saving my pennies, nickels, and dimes up.  I was collecting soda cans and turning them in for the 5 cent deposit we had in Iowa.  By Christmas, I think I had saved around $50 which was not a lot, but it's all I had.  I had presents to buy for my Dad, Mom, older brother, younger brother, and my older brother's wife.  Splitting $50 up between that many people doesn't go far, but I did the best I could.

I looked for items that they could use, and that would allow me to spend within the budget I had.  Using the comics sections of the Sunday newspaper, I wrapped the gifts with care.  Wrapping paper was too expensive for me to buy at that point.  I was proud of what I had done because the $50 I spent on gifts could have purchased a month's worth of groceries for me in those days.  Instead I was giving some of my Christmas joy away to my family.

When my family opened the gifts I had gotten for them on Christmas Day, the response I got was not what I expected.  They looked at me and said, "this is all you got us?"  I was crushed.  I was hurt.  They should have just shot me with a gun because it would not have hurt anymore at that moment.  I so badly wanted to take all the gifts back and go give them to the homeless.

Another experience was after I had just gotten out of the hospital from going through Conversion Disorder and being paralyzed.  My parents and I were not on great speaking terms because they were afraid I was going to spill the family secrets.  So, I could have cared less that year if I bought presents or not.  I finally sent them a check for $25 and a lovely card and letter.  The response I got back was "if this is all you're going to do for Christmas, then please don't send us anything more!"  You talk about being crushed.  This was so hurtful, and I honored their request.  I never sent them another thing.

So while everyone wants to think this is an excellent time of year, Christmas gift-giving anxiety is a real thing.  We might not be conscious enough to admit it, and often we feel powerless in our families.  There can be some real hurt inflicted on this day.

If someone gives me something, I don't care if it is a rock, I will cherish it.  Never will you hear me disparage a gift as if it is not enough.  Christmas gift-giving anxiety causes people to spend mega fortunes and go deep into debt at Christmas.

We never got a lot of gifts at Christmas, but the ones we got were special.  My mom would find a way to make the season special even if she could not spend much.

These days, I'll surprise people at the last minute the day before Christmas with homemade cookies or little things.  I'm not looking for them to give me a gift.  I just enjoy giving something.  I still struggle with Christmas gift-giving anxiety, but I try to do things on my own terms.

Call me a Scrooge if you want because I don't celebrate like most people do, but then why would I want more hurt inflicted upon me.  If someone doesn't appreciate what you get them, then no sense to do it for them.

I'm guessing that I am not the only one with Christmas gift-giving anxiety.  If you deal with this, please leave your story in a comment below.  I'd love to hear your experiences.

Blog Post And Images (c) 11/30/17 by Don Shetterly
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