Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015 Edition Post # 8

From now and until Christmas Eve I will be participating in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, 2015 Edition by Thomas MacEntee and the Geneabloggers. If you would like to join you or want to know more about it please see this link.

Today's Christmas memory is about Christmas shopping.

It is not the size of the gift that matters but the thought and spirit in which the gift was bought and given that matters. Growing up I was the family gift wrapper! I love the act of gift wrapping, choosing the paper, the tag, the ribbon and making sure it is just perfect for the person receiving the gift. My siblings could always tell which gifts were wrapped by me because of the amount of scotch tape I use!

Family Christmas Shopping

As a small girl growing up, I would of course write my letter to Santa. I couldn't wait to go and see Santa at the mall! Once I figured out that there was no Santa (but I believe in the magic of Santa & Christmas) but with younger siblings of course I had to keep the knowledge to myself.

As a daughter, buying gifts for my parents growing up was always fun. I enjoyed picking out just the right present for each of them. Now though they tell us that they really don't need anything. However, we choose to give them something for Christmas anyway. This could include a bottle of their favorite bourbon or wine, a gift card to restaurant they might not normally go to, manicures for Mom, or an Amazon gift card for Dad and his Kindle.

As a sister, buying gifts for my siblings growing up was always fun! Making sure that they didn't find what I bought for them and that I got it wrapped as quickly as possible just in case. As we all got married we continued to buy each other and our spouses gifts for Christmas. However, after awhile we changed our routine. Now all of the adults in my family do "Dirty Santa". The rules for our "Dirty Santa" are simple you must buy one gift for a girl and one gift for a guy giving you 2 chances to draw and/or steal a gift and our limit is $25.00 per gift. However, if you would rather participate as a couple, you only get one draw. After all of the kids have opened their gifts from Mawmaw & Pawpaw and aunts & uncles, the kids go to the den to watch a little tv while the adults do "Dirty Santa". My nephews and nieces are not eligible for "Dirty Santa" until they reach the age of 21. As a group we decided that since they were still in school and only working part time and that there is alcohol involved we felt that 21 was an appropriate age.

Christmas Shopping As A Parent

As a parent, Christmas shopping for my children was tricky to say the least! This was because we didn't have a lot of space which meant I didn't have a lot of room or places to hide the "Santa" presents. When they were really small before they started going to school I would hide their gifts (still in their store bags) on the top shelf of any of the closets in our home. Another issue was that as a single parent I didn't always have enough money to buy all the gifts they wanted. 

I tried to be sure that they had nearly every item on their Christmas list was there but I also tried to teach them that even Santa Claus has limits. Fortunately, my parents and siblings helped a lot in the big ticket items such as bicycles, tvs, video consoles and games. The paternal great grandaunt, Betty always made sure that they had a suit to wear for church every year and at Christmas, she usually sent new shirts or ties, pajamas and a little spending money. I don't know what I would have done without the help of my parents, siblings and Aunt Betty. 

Last year, we bought gift cards for David and Cassie for dinner & movie because we felt that giving them a night out free of worrying about Easton would be the best gift we could give new parents! Then Tommy and I got to babysit Easton so they could have a date night on us with no worries. 

Christmas Shopping as an Aunt 

As an Aunt, when my nieces and nephews were small buying gifts for them was relatively easy and carefree. The ages of my nieces and nephews now range from 7 years old to 22 years old. Buying gifts for such precious children seems to get harder every year. They all have video consoles and games, ipods, and the newest tech toys. It boggles my mind to even try to figure out which video games they have and which one to purchase! There were constant emails, phone calls or texts to my siblings to be sure that I was getting the right gift and that my siblings had not already purchased them items their selves. That is when I got the bright idea of giving them gift cards! Now it is a tradition.

To be honest they all love gift cards. While it does take out the fun of paying back my siblings for all the toys they gave my children that made extremely loud noises, I would much rather they be happy and not have to deal with returning gifts. I also don't just hand them a gift card either. I put them in a decorative Christmas box or tin. I add little things like their favorite candies or candies only available during the Christmas season.  I haven't decided yet what will fill their decorative containers this year but I have a few ideas.

Last year we gave most of them movie gift cards and for several of my nephews and one of my nieces. That could be 2 movies and trip to the concession stand. One year my nephew Walker told me that he and his siblings had to pay for their Mom to go. I told his Mom that the gift cards were for the kids, not her! (grin). We have given in the past gift cards for their favorite restaurants, Target gift cards, my oldest niece is an artist so I know I can't go wrong with Michael's gift cards. When my oldest nephew was dating in high school we gave him and his girlfriend a date night on us! We gave them a duo gift card, one got the restaurant gift card and the other got the movie gift card.

Christmas Shopping as a Grandparents

Who would have ever thought that shopping for a grandchild could get difficult! However, my sweet Doodlebug does have four sets of grandparents and one set of great grandparents which means we check to see who is buying what and try very hard not to duplicate anything, we did pretty good last year. Of course, last year my husband just started filling up the shopping cart with everything on my list! I have already purchased a few small things but I still have more to go.

I will also follow in my Mom's footsteps and continue a tradition she started with my children. Every year my Mom has purchased a special Christmas ornament for her grandchildren. She chooses something that has to do with something in their lives for that particular year or perhaps a sport they are or were involved in. Mom then uses an indelible or permanent marker to write the year on the ornament and if there is enough space she may put that it is from her and Dad. I am still looking for one for Easton this year. I wish I could find an ornament with the Ice Age characters because he just loves those movies!

Christmas Shopping for Friends

I prefer to give homemade gifts to my friends and coworkers. Homemade jars of hot cocoa or Russian tea blends with instructions on how to make a cup of each. Some years I have made dozens and dozens of cookies and packaged them up to go with the hot cocoa or tea mix and sometimes just pretty containers of the cookies themselves. I have learned that these small gestures of presenting homemade gifts are greatly appreciated by one and all. Sometimes, buying small gifts from the local area and made local folks such as honey, scented soaps, jams and jellies are also appreciated. 

I can't say this enough, it is not the size of the gift or the amount of money you spend on a gift for family and friends, it is the thought, care and spirit in which the gift was made or bought, and how it was chosen and presented to the family member or friend that matters.

Editor's Note: Portions of this post and images are from last year's ACCM about Christmas Shopping.

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