Does the arrival of December psych you up or stress you out?
When I posted that question on Facebook over the weekend, my friend Faith — subject of one of my “How ‘Normal People’ Eat” interviews last year — left an intriguing response: “Neither. Reject the hoopla. Just breathe.”
Faith is just as busy as the next person, but part of the reason she’s feeling so zen this year could be that her family’s made the shift into giftless mode.
Naturally, I had to know more …
Q. Was there a triggering incident that led you guys to make this move, or was it more of a gradual process you’d been moving toward for a while?
A. We always spent too much when the girls were little: books, clothes, American Girl dolls, etc. In 2010 we decided to take a trip to New Mexico and skip the presents. Had a great time: hiked, skied in Taos, went to Christmas Eve mass at the cathedral in Santa Fe, visited the pueblo and a reservation to see the xmas dances, saw Dave’s sister in Albequerque. All good.
Then in 2011 Audrey was studying in Paris so gifts again didn’t seem right. Annika’s gift was her plane ticket to visit Audrey for 10 days. They had a great time, saw all the sights (most were free because they are students).
So this year, after two years of not buying presents, I said “no more.” They are both in college, both shop for their own clothes, etc. We will have stockings with chocolates, maybe some earrings and a Gap gift card. Plan to see “Les Mis” on xmas day and maybe go out to eat the next week. They are both planning spring break trips that we will pay for. Anything more seems like “piling on.”
Q. Did you have any gatherings that complicated this change — get-togethers with relatives or holiday parties that involved gift exchanges?
A. Our extended families are small and very scattered across the U.S. so no pressure to buy gifts there either.
Q. How has going giftless changed how you celebrate/feel on Christmas Day?
A. Last year was a bit sad with both girls gone, but Dave and I went to Wu’s for dinner and then saw “Mission Impossible 2.” This year all four of us will be here so I’ll have to give you an update afterward how it all turns out!