Making a Christmas list is a new thing for me. I know every year you get asked what would you like and maybe, if your lucky, you have one or two things in mind; but to make a whole list?! It wasn’t until I started celebrating Christmas with my husband’s family that making a list was even something I needed to think about.
In my family we don’t make lists. My dad writes us a check every year, period. After spending all that money on gifts for others, we’re always grateful for Dad’s check. My mom, well she starts shopping or making presents as early as January. Heck, it’s not unlike her to go take advantage of the after Christmas sales and hoard those goodies for next year. Basically giving her a list in November or December is pretty pointless, her shopping is usually done. Now there a four kids in my family, what about giving them a list? Growing up my father would take us to the mall in December, give us each a set amount of money and let us run free until our shopping spree was done. You could let another sibling know what you wanted as long as it was $20 or less and available at the mall we were going to. So really these things got decided on the fly, at the mall. Even now as we’re older, our incomes and states of employment vary so much it’s hard to ask for things from them.
Given these family traditions, I really value a good, thoughtful gift. (See my last post about Quilts!) Each year under the tree there’s a lot of OK things, some really horrendous things, but always a couple of spot on gifts. And each year my siblings and I gather around our piles of open gifts and laugh (especially over the horrendous things) then swap gifts as needed. I’m laughing now just thinking about some of those gifts. One year I got an early ’90’s style mid-drift baring sweater, covered with huge sunflowers. Oh it was bad, sweaters should not bare mid-drifts! My mom has since turned it into the cutest armrest covers. The thing is, I now value the humor the bad gifts bring to Christmas, almost as much as the Ok gifts. 😉
My husband’s family brought a whole different set of traditions into my life. Being a much smaller family of 4, they make each other lists and then divide the list between themselves. My in-laws also go to the mall with their kids, but instead of everyone roaming free they shop together and when they see something they want someone buys it. Of course my Mother-in-Law buys a few surprises for them as well, things she thinks they’ll like, but mostly there aren’t too many unknowns under their tree. It was a bit of culture shock for me to enter into these traditions.
The first year we went Christmas shopping with the In-Laws, she kept asking if I would like that when I picked something up. She followed me and in every store she would find a way to ask me if I wanted something. I got uncomfortable very quickly. I was suddenly in the spotlight of her generosity and had no idea what to do to get out of it. Mr. Pea finally had to tell her I was uncomfortable, and at the end of the trip I let her buy me a small $10 item I was going to buy for myself anyways.
Now, my mother-in-law is a very sweet woman! She certainly didn’t mean to make me uncomfortable, this is just how she shops with her children, and I am now one of her children. It just took some adjusting on both our parts. The next year I gave in and made them a Christmas list. Having never made a Christmas list, I approached it like I do a shopping trip. I gather up all the things I like in the store bring it into the dressing room and probably buy one of those thing. So I made a huge list of things that caught my eye, but didn’t necessarily want, in hopes it would give them ideas of the kinds of things I like. Not only was this too much, but I had sent it to my family as well, so there was no hope of coordinating. Epic fail! Last year was by far the easiest, we still had items left on our wedding registry to be purchased. There was no need to stress over my lack of Christmas list etiquette.
Based on how nicely things went last year, I have a new approach this year, the Amazon wish list! With the wonder of the internet I can even add items from other websites to this list, and once it’s purchased it’s removed from the list, just like a registry. So I can send it to my family and his as suggestions, without all those people needing to coordinate. Plus much like pinterest, I can use it to bookmark larger items I want for the house or to buy my husband. Thank you Amazon for this handy tool! Hopefully, this year will go as smoothly as last year.
At least I just had to learn to ask for things, Mr. Pea had to learn to find the humor in the random assortment of gifts from my family. 😀