“We’re sticking with the same plan as always, right?”
As we tidied up our Thanksgiving meal and switched gears to Christmas planning, I knew my husband just wanted to double check our gifting plan for the holidays. No gifts for each other, yes, the same as always.
For years now my husband and I haven’t exchanged Christmas gifts. A decade at least of checking off one another’s names before they were even written down. Not because we lack Christmas funds or ideas, but simply because that isn’t what Christmas is for us.
My husband is actually a wonderful gift giver. He is generous and creative and each fall he wows me for my birthday. Equally, for our anniversary, we either choose a couple’s gift we will both enjoy – supplies for a home DIY project or camping gear or a night or two away to celebrate. But Christmas? It’s just not our jam to go all out in the gift department. There is so much more to this season than another gift under the tree.
Why? Well, mostly because so much else takes priority this time of year. Call it trite, but, the true reason for the season – being together, making memories, and watching the joy spark in our children’s eyes. Any gift we could exchange just doesn’t compare.
There is more to it though. More than just saying, “I’ll pass on surprising the one I love most with something they’ll adore.” It’s investing time, energy, and money where our heart truly lies this season. It’s acknowledging that love can’t be bought and experiences are where the magic happens.
Rather than wrapping gifts we truly appreciate the few days he gets off work: two days, between Christmas Day and New Year’s. We sleep in and cook breakfast together. We dance in the kitchen while he sings perfectly in tune and I croon along in my best attempt to stay on key. We juggle kids and clean up messes. We do life with Christmas flair and it’s fun. The days when he does work during this special time of year, we sip our evening eggnog and ignore the pounds we will complain about in January. I poll him on what organizations we should donate to and whether or not we can fit in a hot cocoa and light drive some evening. He helps me address Christmas cards and stokes the fire while we wait in anticipation of the first snow, crossing our fingers that it doesn’t come with losing electricity.
By not allocating funds to extravagant gifts for one another we are able to bless others, because there is no doubt that we have enough. Our kids get a little extra, we sponsor a child’s Christmas wish list, donate to our church to fund holiday meals, and, of course, we splurge on my husband’s favorite holiday meal – prime rib with all the fixin’s. I can’t complain there … he is an excellent cook and I look forward to that spread all year long!
Come Christmas Eve we shoo our kids to bed and play Mr. and Mrs. Claus. He tells me, like he does every year, that I overbought for their stockings and I make him write the gift tags on the kids’ Santa gifts so the handwriting is in disguise even though they know full well that we are the mysterious Santa. He falls asleep on the couch, nearly spilling that evening eggnog, and I finish our holiday movie to the sound of his snores. I honestly don’t think he has ever seen the ending of White Christmas!
And all of that is enough.
The time together. The meals and treats. The fun of surprising our kids. The opportunity to give beyond our family. The music and laughter. The bundling up in the cold and bantering over the “perfect” tree.
Since we choose to skip gifts for one another, we choose to embrace everything that Christmas is without presents. I know he didn’t forget to buy me a gift and he knows I didn’t exclude him from my shopping. Therefore, instead of a new gadget or purse, we exchange something much more valuable – traditions and memories that are beyond priceless. These things can’t be bought or wrapped. And yet, they exist year after year. We give the best of ourselves to make the Christmas season bright and warm and worthy of celebration. It’s not the gifts that count, it’s the memories; the little traditions that could never fit in a box and consequently mean more than any gift ever could.