Giving less without guilt this Christmas


I am a material girl, born of a childhood in which my family always struggled. As soon as I started making an income that was in excess of my absolute necessities, I started in on my role as the family Santa, buying multiple extravagant gifts for my parents and siblings each year at Christmas.

Lately, though, my family has taken to giving much more modest gifts for the holidays; all my siblings but one are welcoming new babies this year, along with the attendant expense, and everyone seems to be on an extremely tight budget. Even me, the Gilbert family moneybags: though I'm not eating Ramen for Christmas dinner, I'm working at simplification in my life. For today, that will mean homemade gifts for some, and nothing for others.

In the past I would have felt guilty for not having several hundred dollars of shopping under my belt, but I've managed to re-attach value in my life: giving something I've made means more, anyway, and for someone near and dear to me to have an expectation of me going broke to buy them a thing would be silly (and, in fact, might affect the dearness of said individual).

In my opinion, a spirit of generosity throughout the year can get you off the hook for the old spendthrift guilt come the holidays; setting expectations helps, too (I've been talking up the simplification and enlisting my family members in my quest for less, for example). Inviting family over for simple celebrations can be useful: my sister will be joining us for Christmas brunch, and my in-laws just left after enjoying hot cider and sugar cookies. How do you spend less and give less, without the guilt, this year?