I believe there are two types of people in the world: those who go all-out at gift-giving "seasons" (birthdays or holidays), those who shun all gift-giving, those who "pay it forward" by giving for no specific reason, and those who can't count.
Which type are you?
I have a birthday in June. That means, growing up, every six months or so, I would receive presents! Yay! Then I grew up and married a dude whose attitude was "it's only money", so we stopped waiting for reasons to buy ourselves stuff, which meant that "presents" kind of lost their meaning. It's hard to get a person "that perfect gift" if they just bought it a week ago because they wanted it a week ago, and it's only money, right?
And while I was growing up, so were my siblings. We were all doing our own thing, making whatever incomes we were making, and Christmas and birthdays began to feel "obligatory". So as we slowly stopped exchanging gifts at all, we transitioned into "Thank you for buying me ____ (which I actually just bought for myself). What did I buy for YOU?" That was a fun transition, but eventually, our gift-exchange became more of a phone call exchange. I want to hear the voices of my family, and holidays are a good day to make those calls, because you can be pretty sure of reaching each other. It's not a gift that's "obligatory".
Lemme tell ya, "obligatory" gifting is the worst, IMO. I have pretty-much always hated Valentine's Day because of its "obligatory" nature. If the person you love most in the world can't feel your love year-round; if you aren't kind and generous with that person all the time, then what makes you think that person is going to appreciate the thoughtfulness you put into picking up that card, or that dozen cut red roses, or the pre-selected heart-shaped box of chocolates? If I am the person you love most in the world, and I don't know it through your actions prior to February 14th, I'm not going to know it on that day. Not even if you bought an incredibly expensive piece of jewelry (and seriously, what are you thinking, buying me expensive jewelry, if I don't already know you love me?)
Which kind of leaves me and others like me in a quandary, come "gift-giving" seasons. Stephen and I are pretty comfortable in our lives. I make good money, when I'm working. Stephen just got a raise. We have a plan to eliminate all of our debt over the next couple of years, and that doesn't include NOT buying for ourselves the things we want, when we want them, if we can "afford" them. It also means that if we happen to find "the perfect gift" for someone else, we'll go ahead and pick it up or order it for delivery, if we can "afford" it. The quandary we face is geographic distance from our loved ones and not knowing what they would consider "the perfect gift". I bet my loved ones face the same quandary with me.
So I got this idea from Jenny Lawson, a.k.a. The Bloggess. She does this thing every year (actually, throughout the year) on her blog, where her readers can contribute to gift boxes for a particular charity, or they can buy books or other things for another reader, or if they are in need themselves, they can create a wishlist on Amazon so that others can help them have a good holiday. Typically, the readers who link a wishlist have children and insufficient income to give them a decent holiday because someone just lost their job or racked up crazy medical bills or something. With the way things are going for us this year, it may be my first time helping a total stranger because of The Bloggess.
But how do I gift my family? Frankly, I'd love to just crochet and crochet and crochet until my fingers fall off, but I need to know what specifically to create, and in what sizes and colors, etc. I don't think Amazon is the right venue for that sort of wishlist. But what if my family has specific things that they'd like to have, now or at any time, that they just don't ever see themselves buying for themselves? That is what Amazon is for! I have gone ahead and created such a list. I don't intend or expect any of my readers to start "gifting" me, But maybe it'll help you to create your own wishlist, that you can share with your loved ones. Maybe it'll encourage your loved ones or my family, hint hint to create wishlists, and then share them with each other.
We don't need a Season of Giving to have a Reason to Gift. But it certainly helps to know what people want, before you go out and blow your money on guesses, right? I would be very surprised if my brother's wishlist were full of elephants, even though every gift I've ever given him (in my memory) was elephant-themed. I wouldn't dare to buy him an elephant-anything now that he's grown up! But what the heck DOES he want? Hmm...
So this is your task: Create a wishlist on Amazon. Make it public or shared, so you can share the link either publicly or just with specific people. Do it NOW, so that if there is anyone in your circle who still feels "obligated" by the Season of Giving, they'll know what to get you. Maintain it. Update it; add to it; delete from it as your tastes/wants/needs change. If you have younguns who should have their own lists, then make specific lists for them. Amazon will let you have any number of lists. Just name them, and again, keep them updated. When your toddler is turning five, there shouldn't be any 2T clothing on the list!
If you are a member of my family, you are welcome to share your link either here, in my comments, or in a group family email. but let's do this, okay? I used to call myself a Great Auntie, and then Rachel made me one for reals, but I haven't been able to be the generous long-distance Auntie that I want to be, because I just don't Have A Clue what the nieces and nephews need or want.
Whaddya think? Sound like a good way to handle The Season?