Well, after giving it some thought, I broke down and decided to buy Christmas presents for my family. I had intended not to, due to my straitened finances, but I did a little jotting on the notepad and figured I could spare $150 without dying, and if I kept the gifts under $10 I could manage. And you know, Ross is right around the corner from the job I've been working this week, and there were a few other places I could get nice prezzies cheap, so that's what I did.
Actually, I started at a place called Tuesday Morning, so named because that's when they get new shipments of discounted housewares, decorative items, and other sundries. I didn't see much that inspired me, but in the very last aisle I found this odd thing that appealed to me so strongly that I had to have it... it was a miniature pitcher and saucer, like for a washstand, Dresden-style, done in gold and cobalt and bright yellow. Gorgeous, and $5.99.
Well, I couldn't buy just one thing, so I scoured the shelves again and came across some things that would do for various of my relatives... windchimes, facial scrubber machines, crystal candy-dishes, golf-themed desk-sets, stuff like that.
And then yesterday I went to Ross and finished up. And I found so many good bargains (sweaters, kitchen-canisters, etc.) that I was able to stick a few gifts for myself (a video and a back-support belt) into the mix while staying within my budget.
Though it was immensely tiring (especially since I have to park three-quarters of a mile from work, which is in downtown Berkeley and therefore a parking nightmare, and walk back weighed down with presents in the freezing rain), I feel a lot better about Christmas now that I can weigh in with some material posessions come Christmas day.
Our family has this big rather barbaric ritual, where we pass out all the gifts and then we all open them all at once, shouting thanks across the room in a deafening pandemonium that usually lasts about half an hour. Then we eat pie.
But the point is, we all shop for each other, rather than drawing names like civilized folks, and we open our presents in front of everyone and can see who gave what to whom. So of course, if you give a gift, you want it to be nice enough to bear scrutiny.
We're not really competitive about it, but I am competitive, and would feel bad giving someone a crappy gift, even worse than I feel not giving a gift at all. But now I have gifts, and I won't feel guilty receiving gifts.
All is right with the world.