I have written extensively on this subject in relation to Christmas before, both on the blog and in church publications. My approach is to encourage degiftifying, as I call it – reducing the gift giving in order to concentrate on the spirituality of the season as well as to make it way less stressful. I thought that this year I would write concerning those who have taken the first step and reduced the gift giving, but have perhaps hit a wall in terms of friends or relatives. It is easy within a nuclear family to reduce gift giving, certainly among spouses. Our children are all young, so they have never known huge gift windfalls; I imagine if they were older and were used to a ton of gifts we would have to gradually reduce.
I have found that many people have a hard time enforcing the no gift thing with friends or relatives who continue to give gifts to the people’s children. When this happens the need is felt to reciprocate. I have talked to friends in this situation, and the common denominator is everyone is afraid to address it with their buddy or cousin or sibling. I have never understood this. These people are friends – how can you not speak frankly but lovingly with them? If a friend gets offended that you are trying to reduce gift giving then, well, maybe the friendship needs to be reconsidered. In all fairness, most people I know engage in the gift frenzy because they feel they have to and it is expected of them. This is no way to live! Reduce the gift giving, work it out with friends and family, and enjoy the Advent and Christmas seasons.