By: Revanche

In the holiday spirit

December 19, 2009

Once upon a time, we celebrated holidays and birthdays with loads of family, food, and fun.  Some years gifts were bountiful, other years scarce, but we kids rarely had any gift expectations. Except one: every other year, I hoped for a new digital watch or a strap replacement because that’s about how long it took for the wristband of my good old $5 Casio to break.  Pretty simple, as those things go. 

The wish list was unheard of.  We wrote little letters to Santa, but understood that while other kids had jolly Old Saint Nick for a Santa, our family Santa was just our parents signing a different name on the gift tag.  Dual personalities didn’t bother me, at any rate.  

After age ten, though, Christmases changed substantially – my parents stopped celebrating entirely.  I didn’t fully appreciate how busy and exhausted they were, working 7 days a week, at their small business, so for seven years, I advocated for a Christmas tree this year, in vain.  (I must have been so annoying!)  

It took another five years of trying to resurrect my fondly remembered holiday traditions before I developed a much healthier approach than a forced diet of gifts to disinterested people.

One of my favorite traditions is a very special one I share with a good friend.  N and I exchange birthday and Christmas gifts each year, following the same rules: we buy a few volumes of a comic book series that we both want to read, read it first, and then trade gifts. 

It doesn’t make sense to anyone else, but we love it. 

This harkens back to our college days when I couldn’t really afford to splurge on a lot of books for myself, and A had more disposable income.  I’m pretty sure the arrangement came about because one (or both) of us couldn’t wait ’til after the gifting occasion to borrow the books and read them – we both buy gifts weeks if not months in advance.

This also gave rise to the Buy Quests we go on each year at Comic Con:  we provide each other with the titles of books we’d like to be collecting, and we then painstakingly search through each of the bargain bin booths to collect as many of those books for 50% off or $5/each as possible.  

Do you have any holiday, birthday or gifting traditions?  Care to share?

7 Responses to “In the holiday spirit”

  1. Oh, that’s so cute!

    When we were young, my parents couldn’t really afford presents for us, but we luckily had very generous grandparents.

    After my sisters and I all graduated from college, we came home for Christmas to discover that my parents had bought a fake Christmas tree. We heckled my dad so much that he now buys a real tree every year, just so he gets some peace!

  2. Abigail says:

    I love that comics idea! Tim loves his comics, which is why this past year, he had the Marvel online subscription. It was $60 for the year and gave him unlimited access to the archives, psychological profiles Marvel had created for various characters, and some exclusive online content. This year, it got pared down in favor of a bigger gift. Still, I’m guessing we’ll get it again once our finances are better.

    As for traditions, we’re trying to transfer his birthday traditions to this new city. We used to go downtown so that we could hit Gordon Biersch, which has fabulous appetizers that, at happy hour, are nearly affordable. Then we would go to a movie and to Cheesecake Factory for dessert. (He’s a cheesecake fanatic.)

    This year, Gordon Biersch is nowhere near the Cheesecake Factory and Chili’s appetizers are pretty darned close — the sweet wings and the southwestern egg rolls. So we’re going to go to Chili’s for apps, then to Cheesecake Factory for his annual slice. After that, things are a little nebulous. But he’s got his PSP and his Darth Maul hoodie (found two days ago for $4.53 after gift cards) so he’s pretty happy overall.

  3. oooh I love reading how people celebrate so uniquely. What a lovely tradition you have!

  4. Grace. says:

    In my family, it’s the blue Tiffany box. During my first year of grad school in NYC, in 1970, I bought my mother the cheapest thing I could find at Tiffany’s. It was a silver toothpick and it cost $10.00. The gift was never used and ultimately disappeared. But ever after, someone got some gift in the Tiffany box. Both parents are dead now, but my sister snatched up the box when she visited me over Thanksgiving, so I know that at least one of her gifts will come to me in that box!

  5. Carrie says:

    we don’t have any traditions around here but i feel you on the “can we have a christmas tree this year” sentiment. we didn’t have one last year because everyone was too worn out after my grandfather’s death and cleaning up his houses and we didn’t have one the year before because my mom had been traveling in central america and was sick when she got home. this year the tree still isn’t up either but at least i know we’re having presents unlike the last couple years.

  6. Revanche says:

    @paranoidasteroid: Thanks 🙂 Most people just furrow their brows and say, wait, you do what? Why?

    We were fairly poor when I was young, too, so we had a lot of decorative empty boxes under the tree.

    @Abigail: I hope he enjoys the updated arrangements just as much.

    @notesfromthefrugaltrenches: Thank you, and I hope to hear about your orphans’ holiday gathering this year if you do one!

    @Grace: I love that!

    @Carrie: Maybe we should put up a blogger Xmas tree for those of us who won’t have a real one!

  7. Wal-Mart sells these $10 Snowflake bears each year with the year embroidered on the foot. My mom used to buy one every year for me and my brother. This tradition has stopped, but I smile every time I see those bears in the store. I can not wait to pick up the tradition with my children…one day

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