Thursday, December 15, 2011

Beware of the looming Gifting Anxiety

This post ran last year and resonated with many. I think we could all use a little reminder...

I’m no fan of staying up late on Christmas Eve to wrap gifts only to have my daughters wake me up pre-dawn. I really appreciate sleep. I’m nearly finished, just a few more to wrap.

One would think completion of such a large task as wrapping would usher in a feeling of relief or satisfaction.

It never does.

After everything is neatly wrapped with personal tags dangling, I step back and look at the whole of my year-round efforts of thoughtfully hunting treasure for my family and friends. Instead of thinking,” Wow! It’s beautiful!” I think, “Wow! It’s such a small pile.” How crazy is that? I need to remind myself we've a home with a holiday tree we chopped down ourselves in the forest and a real fireplace. We have heat and food in the pantry. Warm beds. Coats. Each other.

We’re trained to think that our children will feel completely dejected if there's still standing room in our living room on Christmas morning. We believe our home should look something like the home of Herr and Frau Silberhaus in the Nutcracker mixed with an FAO Schwarz two-story display that assaults the senses.

It really gets under my skin. I fall for the illusion every year. I begin to feel like I’m a bad mommy because I didn’t scout out enough gifts. I didn’t give enough. Enough of what? I'm not even certain.

This tempts me to race out at the last minute and fill that void with more gifts.

Attention, shopping never feels psychological voids. Nope. Na-uh. No way.

The reality? I really don’t have enough time to think about what else could be truly meaningful. I’ve spent the entire year searching and thrown a lot of thought into the gifts that sit before me. To think I’m going to find the great and profound missing pieces in the last hour is a bit foolish.

If I did race out to buy more, it’ll likely be gift filler, meaningless stuff thrown in to aid in the illusion that quantity trumps thoughtfulness. A cheap acrylic sweater isn't going to tip the scales.

Why this feeling always overtakes me every year is a real stumper. It is far out of line from my standard shopping mentality.

Perhaps I need some sort of therapy. Or perhaps, we’ve been conditioned to think we will never give enough presents to our children. The latter is a horrible thought. It would be cruel if I had succumbed to this as a deliberate marketing tactic. The only thing we can give more of to our children is love.

I need a distraction. I think hot cocoa with whipped cream and sprinkles, a fire in the hearth and a family game of dominoes under the tree might do the trick.

I think that’d make more sense than racing out now to buy stuff that’s going to be massively discounted in a few days. Besides, I'm not even certain I want the items when they're 80% off so why would I pay full price?

I KNOW others deal with this psychological issue every year too. How do you manage?