Until this year, the greatest satisfaction in Christmas shopping came when I could cross it off my list. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy giving gifts. Those serendipitous finds that scream a person’s name can make my day. But I’d be all for voting that we give gifts based upon those findings, not because the 25th day of the 12th month has arrived. It’s like forced gratitude – I’m sure it has its place, but the whole concept seems a bit misguided.
Each year I approach the Month O’ Consumerism with attempts to discover what my loved ones “need” or want. The answer is nothing. We live in a place and time of abundance. No matter if it’s a “down economy” my circle has always had a full pantry and closet, which is 200% above what 2/3 of the world might wake up to – every day.
Besides, isn’t leaving a Christmas list full of “needs” a bit selfish? Stuff that we don’t want to have to put away for, the disciplined act of planning and saving and researching and purchasing – we’ll just add it to the Christmas list. Or the guilt-laden things. The fact that we want something that we might later feel guilt for purchasing so therefore we allow those who are obligated to shop for us do the dirty work – well, my pining for an ipad hasn’t escaped me. Let’s just say that. (Do I need to mention that in our house there are 3 ipods, an iphone, a Macbook and a regular laptop? Clearly not a “need”).
So this year I approached Christmas a bit differently. My original goal was to buy local – I wanted to be able to meet the maker of every gift. While I wasn’t at a 100% satisfaction rate, I did well. Several purchases from Etsy, a friend who owns her own printing company and a “made in Ohio” gift store at Easton made this much more simple (though I didn’t actually meet all these makers, I decided with little effort, I *could* and thus meeting the spirit of the law). I also made several of my own gifts and complemented them with other purchases – thank you very much, vintage Sears Kenmore. Oh, and big props to the local Goodwill Industries for being the sole contributor to little V’s box of joy that awaits her.
While I had somewhat economic and philosophical leadings for this little project, it should not come to any surprise that the act of gift giving this season escalated my own satisfaction. I’m downright GIDDY to give these presents away. I believe them to be presents that the recipients will truly enjoy – a category outside the need and want. For the kids, I look forward to the play and the experiences that are forthcoming. For the adults, I hope that the personalized nature and thoughtfulness expresses my feelings of privilege for having such wonderful people in my life.
As I said, I’m not at 100%. Maybe I never will be. But this season has changed from the chore of finding to the joy of giving, and that’s reason enough to continue to allow my approach to Christmas to evolve.

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