Before Black Friday, I wrote a post about store opening times on the day after Thanksgiving. What a silly idea that was for me. First of all, I’m not a big shopper. Second, I wasn’t going to be getting up early that morning to try to get some of the good deals. And third, my sisters and I have decided that we’re going to rein in gift giving this year.
Part of me feels bad about that. I’ve talked to other people who are similarly cutting back or choosing, within their families, to not exchange gifts at all. I feel bad that my extended family might wind up contributing to declining sales at local and U.S. stores this holiday season, which in turn could lead to retailers going out of business and laying off their employees. More people losing jobs. I don't want that. None of us do.
On the other hand, my oldest sister, who lives in Martinez, and I agreed that it also doesn’t feel right for us to be tearing around buying sweaters or earrings for each other that we’d love to have but right now don’t really need. And, maybe by not getting all caught up in the gift-buying frenzy, we’ll be focusing more on what is supposed to be meaningful about the holidays: our family getting together to enjoy one another’s company and to be grateful that we have our family.
It’s not that either my sister or I or our families are hurting too much (except for drops in home values and 401Ks). But we both know people who have lost jobs, and we were both reading the stories in local newspapers about rising demand for services at local food banks. “If had I tons of money,” my sister said, “I’d rather donate it than spend it on Christmas gifts.”
Within my family, we will be exchanging some gifts. My other sister, who lives in Danville, revealed that she and her husband, who are very DIY-oriented, are making gifts that they’ve been wanting to make for a long time. Meanwhile, my husband, son, and I, who are not very DIY-oriented, did our Christmas shopping at a November 2 sale of art-related items made by the Walnut Creek-based non-profit Creek Kids Care. The kids--elementary to high school-aged--make stationery (one card cover pictured here), knitted items, and framed art, which they sell to help raise money for Fresh Start, the respite and service center in downtown Walnut Creek for for the working poor, homeless, or those at the risk of becoming homeless. Speaking of Creek Kids Care, they will be selling more items at the Walnut Creek Farmers Market tomorrow, Sunday, December 7 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Also, you can order their cards now, directly from their website.
Finally, my sisters and I have agreed to make a couple exceptions in terms of splurging on gifts. We’ll still buy presents for the kids in our extended family, and we’ll pitch in to buy (shh!) a package of massages for our mother.
If anyone else has thoughts about cutting back on the gift-giving this holiday season, or ideas on how to give gifts, but at a discount, feel free to share them.