Friday, November 21, 2008

Wish Lists - What's Your Take?

I have been pondering this for a while now - like a year or more - but two things yesterday brought it to my mind again. First I read this post by Jenn over at Full of Boys. And then I got the holiday list link from my sister-in-law of things she'd like.

Okay, so my husband will appreciate this... I'm "processing" my thoughts while I write. Note: I do NOT do this out loud, ever! ;)

I think I will start with saying that Christmas really feels like it has lost a lot of it's meaning for me. We spend half our Christmas break here and half in Oregon with the in-laws. There is NOTHING wrong with this, I LOVE it. But. It does make for more stress and busy-ness what with traveling and all.
Add to that the fact that there are already so many events in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas and most years I end up feeling like I'm so busy I don't have time to sit and ponder. I want to have the Christmas spirit, yet so often I feel like I'm just going through the motions.

The other thing I don't like about Christmas is the presents - and mainly the horrid consumerism that goes along with it. (This is one of the many reasons I'm so glad we don't have a TV. I don't have to know what the "it" thing to have this Christmas is and I'm just as happy without it!)

If it were up to me, Christmas would be about celebration. Gathering with friends and family to enjoy each other and to take time to think about what it is we're celebrating. That's what I miss the most. It feels so fake, like we've just left out the center of the holiday entirely.
Next side note: my friend Rachel will be posting something for Advent, which starts this Sunday, every day on her blog. I'm really liking this idea!

And now for the actual title of my post...

My family never did "wish lists". It was always just buy something for the person that you thought they would like, want, or need. You could ask them for suggestions of course, but it was generally up to you.
My husbands family on the other hand, has emailed each other a list of the specific items they would like, complete with links, every year we have been married.

Now, I'm not saying either way is right or wrong, but as you can see, they are just about polar opposites! This is where my dilemma comes in.

I was raised with the idea that you should buy something for the person because you think of it. Basically you should know the person well enough that you would know what they might like (or want or need). This has its pitfalls (random gifts you don't know what to do with anyone? :) I've always had a much harder time buying things for my dad and my brother than for my mom. I see stuff All.The.Time that I could buy for her and most often I have to resist knowing I already have something for the next 9 holidays for her!
So sometimes it might be nice to know if there was really something that my dad or brother (or husband - why are guys so hard to buy for?) would really like!

However, there's something about the "wish list" that just really bugs me. It feels so... impersonal, for lack of a better word. "Here's a list of stuff I want, please get me something off this list". It takes away the aspect of knowing the person and what they might like. At that point mightn't we all just go and buy ourselves the things we want and wish each other a Merry Christmas?

I don't know. I know I'm coming down pretty hard on "wish lists" and I just don't know what to do about it. I feel like suggesting a Secret Santa style Christmas where we each only buy a gift for one person. I think that would make it a lot less stressful and also you would be able to buy a nicer gift. (yes, people do collaborate on bigger gifts in our family at times) But it might be too late to suggest this for this year.

In the end I wish it was less about the stuff and more about the people and the Reason. I'm not sure entirely how to do this... but here's hoping we can talk about it!


  1. We do a combo. Everyone always wants to know what we want. So, we usually give some specifics, but leave the rest open-ended. Or do general ideas (like kitchen gadgets or sweaters) with nothing more specific than that. Of course, our families are also comfortable with gift certificates. Fine with me! I don't really like asking for specifics. It doesn't make Christmas morning very fun. Although, it is nice to get something you really want. I don't know. I can see both sides. I'm not helping matters, am I?

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Krista! I really enjoyed reading this post - I feel in reading it that I got to know you a little better! I process what I think about things in a similar manner ... I go back and forth and back and forth, sometimes wondering why I am uncomfortable with a particular thing but can't always put my finger on it exactly. I appreciate you!


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