Every Holiday Creates a Few Ruffled Feathers, Right?!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Let me start this post out by saying I love my family. But my mother's side of the family has gotten huge in the past few years. I can remember when I was young the only younger people were me and my 4 cousins. Now it has grown to Nanny and Pop, my aunt and 2 uncles, plus my mom, me and 4 cousins and 10 munchkin cousins (2nd cousins I suppose). If we are counting actual bodies that's... 21 not including spouses... which bumps the number up to 30 people all in one house on Christmas Eve partying and exchanging gifts.

Like I said, I love my family to death. We are wild and crazy and so much fun, but have you ever tried to buy approximately 25 gifts only for extended family?! Every year we spent approximately $500 on just extended family.  That's a lot of money!

When my cousins started having munchkin cousins we had said that when people turned 18-21 somewhere around there we would stop giving them gifts. And this was okay because we still were a fairly small family. However in the past few years it has become where all the munchkin cousins and aunts and uncles have been getting gifts so that basically leaves out me and my cousins from really getting gifts.

I realize that the season isn't actually about gift giving or how much money you spend. You should be enjoying time with your family and being thankful. But when we showed up to my grandparents house with 3 tubs full of gifts for all of the family and left with 1 or 2 boxes it's a little disappointing.

Last year my family said that we needed to cut back on gift giving. As November rolled around my mom and I suggested we do a themed Chinese gift exchange for the women, men and children. Our suggestion was that the women exchange a $20 jewelry gift, men do a $20 gift card and the parents of children could chose what they want to do. Therefore, if you had the money and wanted to participate you would buy a gift and come home with a gift. Everything is fair.

This began a huge uproar with one of my cousins. She was all offended because the kids wouldn't understand why they weren't getting gifts and that would mean her and her family would have to spend $80 on gifts. Normally my cousin that started complaining only gives gifts to my grandparents and nobody else yet leaves with arms full of gifts. There were some almost mean words sent back and forth in emails about the gift exchange and how the children were being left out.

Personally I generally leave Christmas Eve a little hurt because my family receives little even in the "thank you" department for the gifts we give. I was really looking forward to the gift exchange where we were all going to be on an even playing field. I even thought the idea of a "Secret Santa" would be awesome. Eventually my cousins and everybody decided we wouldn't exchange gifts at all. Instead parents would bring gifts for their children and put them under the tree so each child would have a gift to open.

Even though I'm a little disappointed we won't be doing any kind of exchanging, swapping or secret santa-ing I'm sure we will have a great Christmas as a family. It's so sad that when it comes to spending money and buying gifts, we can't be just a little generous during this time of year. But maybe a year without all the gift madness will help us truly understand the meaning of Christmas and enjoy being a family.

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  1. I'm always a bit sad when Christmas becomes about finances, but it's definitely hard when a family grows. We've started doing a secret santa gift exchange these past few years and it GREATLY reduces costs. For immediate family and spouses, we each pick ONE name, and that person gets a gift up to $100. For everyone else, we either make/craft gifts, or we have a cost limit of $15. It keeps things fair and personal, and I generally don't spend over $200 :)

  2. That sounds like a big ole mess. I have family like that as well they don't have the money to participate or it won't be fair to them, yet they are hurt when they don't get things nevermind every one else's feelings that are hurt. As hard as it is to remember that this season isn't about the gifts it does hurt when you don't get something. I have totally been there.

  3. That's hard. But at least you tried to come up with a solution.

  4. Oh the woes of Christmas time! I hope that everything ends up working out for the better with your family and your gift exchange!

  5. It's strange how holiday times (which should be happy and bring everyone together) sometimes cause family drama (big or small).

    I have a super small family now (it used to be larger...though I guess I also don't include my second cousins in gift-giving) so I now have a very quiet Christmas with just my mom and pup. Makes for not too expensive gift giving though.

    I'm sure Christmas will still be magical despite the lack of swapping this year. <3

  6. Situations like these are always so tough. Joys of the holidays.

  7. It's amazing how Christmas can bring out situations like these. Makes me sad.