That time of year is once again approaching when some people agonize over buying the right gift for a special person or members of the family, how much to spend on it and then if the receivers will find it useful and welcome. What message does your present transmit about yourself, particularly if it is for an in-law? You yourself dread receiving a gift which you don’t want and then having to fake gracious gratitude. Others will agonise over not being able to give at all because their budgets will not stretch to allow purchasing small, let alone elaborate, gifts. And then there is the ever-looming spectre of an over-stretched credit card and commitments in the new year.
Isn’t it time that we rethink the senseless and wasteful Christmas ritual of reciprocal presents, presents as rewards for good behaviour, presents to win over the boss, presents to smooth over last year’s injustices, the obligatory present, and of getting sucked into the commercialisation of Christmas? This can only come about if we set firm borders and rules, starting with our families and inner circle of friends.
By setting limits on the value of a present, you avoid giving something of unequal value to family members. This can also be great fun for all having to find an appropriate gift for a parent or sibling to the value of R10 but not exceeding R20 and keeping it secret.
You can limit gifting to children under age 13 only – and be firm with grandparents. Make it clear that no-one is entitled to a present but that the spirit of Christmas is celebrated.
In less fortunate households where perhaps only an extra portion of food or only one favourite dish may be possible, the gift of having each other can still be celebrated. Let family members tell each other how they are appreciated and highlight the good characteristics each one displays.