Let’s all just get on the same page by acknowledging the goodness of gifts, and their merits. Giving from the heart, and the generosity, and the yep yep yep. Got it. Gifts can be good outlet for appreciation, care, and thoughtfulness.

So I hope you don’t mistake my honest commentary here for a rant, because it’s not supposed to be.

But I agree with The Minimalists who write:

Gift-giving is not a love language any more than Pig Latin is a Romance language. Rather, material gift-giving is a pernicious cultural imperative, and we’ve bought it (literally bought it) hook, line, and sinker. We’ve become consumers of love.

The grotesque idea that we can somehow purchase love is nauseating and potentially dangerous. …Gift-giving is, by definition, transactional. But love is not a transaction.



  1. There are usually so many gifts that mine gets lost in the shuffle anyways 
  2. Kids have been happily banging on pots and pans, and playing with cardboard boxes for decades. 
  3. Receiving and unwrapping is ½ of the fun
  4. The thoughtful $5 thing often gets the same reaction as the $50 thing. (Likely because we’re all faking excitement. (Which is the polite thing to do.)) 
  5. Most importantly, those of us who don’t think twice about our financing our daily Starbuck’s habit and signing up for Disney Plus probably don’t need much of anything

PROOF: When you type in ‘Christmas gifts for kids’ on google, the third predictive search that appears is ‘…for kids who have everything.’ Which means that, according to google’s algorithm, this search is popular enough to be trending. 

There’s a one-two punch here. First, we, the adult santas of America, see the piles of books, toys, and stuffed animal zoos, and then we unanimously confide in google that these middle-class kids of ours have everything. And yet we don’t stop to consider what this means. Instead we breeze past this giant teachable moment and convince ourselves that the solution is not to stop buying, but to research creative ways to add to everyone’s surplus. 


The point of a gift is to be special, so don’t skimp if you can help it. If you can only afford one quality item do it vs 5 cheap things. 

Case in point. Clay and I both want a titanium snow peak mug. The one we each want is about $50 and to most people it is ‘just a mug’. But not us! It’s a backpackers dream mug and every time we stroll around R.E.I, we make a point to go look at the mug, and wonder, “is today the day we finally break down and buy two?” But no. Because they are $50.

My point is: sometimes the perfect gift is a $50 mug that might not excite you (the giver) but would blow the socks off of someone else (the receiver).


  1. Often the thing we thought they’d love didn’t get the reaction we expected, but the thing we thought was just okay was a huge hit. 
  2. Be okay with not getting the biggest reaction
  3. No one expects Aunt Katie and Uncle Clay to come through with the gift of the year. (And do not say ‘challenge accepted’. This is not the time.)
  4. Making memories and spending quality time together are both way more important than the gifts.

PROOF: I can’t recall the presents I received three years ago. Many of them have since been given away or donated. But I do remember playing bananagrams with my sister and the time she won with a knock-out work like ‘fundraiser’. I remember the snowball fights with my nieces, and the monkey bread my mother-in-law made. I also remember going to see the movie Trolls as a family and loving that. Clay also can not remember most of the gifts he received, but he will always remember growing up and stringing lights on the pine tree in the front yard with his dad. And he still remarks about the year his parents cooked an actual Christmas goose, or the other year when they prepared a “seafood extravaganza.” 

Here’s how to make memories with a ‘gift’

One thought on “Christmas Pep-talk

  1. Merry Christmas, Katie and Clay. Can’t wait to have you two home for the holidays. Cheers!

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