I’ve been writing about how disturbing it is to me that the holiday season is getting more and more about consuming and less and less about anything else. I’m probably just projecting because I am too broke to participate this year. A second child, a move, and a few months without steady employment will do that to you. I’m back on track now – but as anyone who has ever had a small break from income will tell you – the effects are lasting. It will probably take about two years to get back to the financial place I was in before I took six months off work. Ugh.
Not being as financially stable as I am used to being, I find myself getting annoyed at the mere mention of gifts. Being hyper-sensitive to this has made me realize how much of the season revolves around gift-giving. It’s stressing me out. I have my husband, my children, my sisters, my mother, a brother and his family, a nephew with a new baby – the list goes on and on. And I haven’t even gotten to a single friend yet.
In order to cope with my gift-giving inadequacies, I’ve been thinking of different ways I can reach out to friends and family without spending a lot of money. This involves Christmas cards and photos of my children – which I know is a big yawn – but I want everyone to know I am thinking about them. This led me to start thinking about all of the people I don’t keep in contact with as much as I should. This led me to reminisce about old friends, Christmas parties, gifts… I got downright nostalgic. I got an empty notebook and wrote down the names of all the people I missed and needed to make time to contact.
I figure all the time I’m not spending in a shopping mall will give me some extra time to put actual physical effort into hearing the voices of my friends and family. I started sending messages for “phone dates.” A conversation may not be the best gift out there – but it’s free, and it’s all I got this year. The notebook I wrote all my friends names in is a gift to myself; I put little boxes next to all their names so I can check off when I connect with them. You’d think it wouldn’t be too hard to make a phone call every couple months – but it is. There are people I love that I haven’t spoken to in years. That’s ridiculous.
This may sound stupid – but I think my inability to shower people with gifts may end up making me a better friend this year – or at least a more present one.
(photo: Getty Images)