Instead, it was the kind of message I think many of us are pondering: "I was wondering if we could not exchange Christmas gifts this year." On one hand, it surprised me. I've always admired her and her husband for their successful professional careers and beautiful home. If they are worried about money...wow. On the other hand, it came as a relief! I'm paying off a big school loan and with the price of gas and groceries, my earnings just don't go as far as they once did. My credit cards are already bulging with debt, so not having to charge a few more Christmas gifts seems wiser than gold, frankincense or myrrh.
Not everyone feels this way. The newspapers are full of stories predicting the demise of many familiar retailers if people don't get out and shop 'til they drop. In the latest edition of Town & Country magazine, a writer bemoans the trend of replacing gift-giving with charitable donations. In her mind, it takes all the fun out of the holidays. Now, that trend is different from not exchanging gifts at all, but I think both ideas stem from the same issue: What is the wisest way to celebrate Christmas, or, any other special occasion (because I know not everyone celebrates Christmas)? If I'm worried about the economy, my mortgage, my retirement savings, is it okay to say "No gifts," at least for a year or two? If I don't feel like I can make a dramatic show of gift-giving or I'm fed up with excessive spending, is it okay to say, "I'll make a donation in your name this year?"
PlainTalk will feature, in the weeks to come, various ways in which you can get more out of your holiday gift-giving: suggestions for local organizations that need your donations; places where you can buy relatively inexpensive, "fair trade" gifts, so you can give and give more; "green" and charitable suggestions for holiday cards, wrappings, and other necessities; and, opinions, my own and yours, on the ins and outs of gift-giving.
At the top of this page, to your right, you'll see a poll - let us know what your plans are for Christmas shopping this year. You can also let us know if you have no Christmas plans! Want to add your Comments on this topic? Type them in below - you can list your name, or even post anonymously.
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