As my girlfriend’s son tore open the Christmas card I had given him he shouted out… “Who’s the cheapskate that only gave me $10.?”
I wanted to disappear. His mother reprimanded him but the damage was done.
My friend had a great job. She could afford to give her kids TV sets and other large Christmas gifts, but what she appreciated most from me was simple friendship. The joy of being able to talk about anything and share failures and triumphs. Someone she could count on to be there when times got tough.
As a single mom with 4 kids I struggled at Christmas and often wrapped up food items so my kids would have something to unwrap – a bag of their favourite cookies or breakfast cereal that they didn’t have to share. Packages of hot chocolate in their stockings along with an apple and an orange.
That Christmas changed my gift giving to others. The next year I gave her kids shoeboxes filled with homemade cookies. They were a big hit (and less than $10 each)
I continued to do homemade Christmas gifts each year – chocolate truffles, cookies, scarves – until they grew up and moved away.
I remember one year my son’s girlfriend watched him unwrap a gift of cereal. She said (with a tone of horror) “Your mom gives you food for Christmas?” He turned to her and said: “Yes, isn’t it great!”
One year I gave my son a miniature Starship Enterprise. He forgot about everything else and played with that for hours. Another year I made my youngest son a Canada flag bedspread – he was thrilled and took it to college with him.
I still give my kids food at Christmas – a small hostess gift of their favourites when I visit – a bag of Starbucks coffee, some pepperette sticks, some cheeses, cookies and a bottle of maple syrup from a local business.
Christmas gift giving has changed a great deal over the years. We have drawn names so we only have to buy one gift. We have set limits on the dollar value. We have done a crazy Christmas sock exchange. We have done family photos.
This year we (my boyfriend and me) bought just for the grandkids – something to unwrap and some money for their education fund. He and I make charitable donations to causes we support as gifts for each other, and occasionally some consumables like food for the birds.
What I learned
- Gifts don't have to be expensive
- Gifts that come from the heart are better
- Gifts handmade with love tops cash or a purchased gift
- Just because you can't compete at a monetary level doesn't mean you can't give a meaningful gift.
When you take the time to notice what people like during the year, you can make Christmas extra special.
What do you do for your Christmas? Do you have a special tradition?
All the best to you and yours this Christmas season and Happy New Year.
P.S. Here is my favourite Truffles recipe. You can have so much fun using different toppings such as sprinkles, powdered sugar, coconut, crushed nuts (different types) and it makes a lovely gift in a tin or gift box.