Saw a recent letter in a newspaper advice column from a woman whose family was mad at her. They were mad because she wouldn't provide them a list of gift ideas for herself. She said that folks just going and buying things you write down on a list, isn't what gift giving is about. And if they couldn't think of her and find some little something they thought she might like, then they didn't know her well enough to be buying a gift for her anyway.
That rings true to me. But it takes time and effort and a winnowing of the list to only include people we want to buy things for.
A few years ago my sibling and parents all realized we were just exchanging restaurant gift cards. Examined, that practice seemed silly. So we stopped. The kids still got a gift of money or a gift card, but for the adults, spending time together seemed better.
As our kids get older, the experience of being together is more the gift to me than the ones wrapped under the tree. A dinner out. An outing. Our one son and his fiancee don't exchange gifts, they come up with something they both want to do and then that is their gift to each other. This year they spent a day at Stone Mountain Christmas.
There are so many ways we can express our feelings for each other, but it's powerful to buy into the suggestions set before us by others. I want to be honest to myself and buy gifts because that's how I want to show love to someone. To be intentional, not just do what I've always done, or feel I should do.
Life, and the Christmas season, is too short to not pay attention.