Call me narcissist if you must but this blog is all about ME. I have another blog about my kids, whom I love and adore writing about. But I was Nicole a long time before I was mom and I don't intend to give up being Nicole overnight.

You can read all about my kids at Naptime Optional.
Or you can follow along on our Arizona adventure on my 365 project blog.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Nicety or Necessity

I've already admitted that remembering people's birthdays is not a strong point of mine. I want to be a nice person. Really I do. But so often I fall short.

Christmas seems to be no different. I often fall short of all my good intentions.

Two years ago I was behind on getting out my Christmas cards, so I sent out New Years cards.

Last year cards didn't go out at all.

I likely won't be sending out any this year, either.

And I feel bad. There are people I think of and care about and want to let them know that I care about them and think of them. But just can't bring myself to stress about sending out Christmas cards. Because I feel obligated to write something personal on each card. And send pictures. Which most people will probably just throw away anyway. So I just don't bother.

I don't take gifts to my neighbors, either.

The year we moved into our home two of the neighbors who live on our street brought us treats. I thought that was kind, considering we'd only lived here 2 months and didn't know them well. But I was overwhelmed by a new house, new mortgage, and a baby on the way so I didn't reciprocate.

The following year a few more neighbors brought gifts. I still took nothing in return, thinking that maybe if I let enough years pass without taking something they'd just stop bringing us stuff and then I'd be off the hook.

That was 5 years ago. This year we got more gifts and goodies than ever before from our wonderful neighbors. In fact, the treats just keep piling in. 4 plates of goodies just tonight! It seems the less gifts I take out the more popular we become.

And my guilt is now really starting to get the best of me! I know I SHOULD send cards to long lost friends. I know I SHOULD take something to all my neighbors who have so kindly remembered us for all these years. I know I SHOULD have more of the spirit of giving.

But I just don't have the energy. Or the creativity. Or the sanity. Or the money.

My mother taught me better. Truly she did. She taught me to be kind and thoughtful and thankful and grateful.

So please tell me, how much is required when Christmas rolls around? What things are absolute necessities and what things are merely niceties? How do I keep the season simple while still letting others know I am thinking of them?


HeidiPie said...

humm...that's a hard one. Why don't you just tell me you love me and miss me. I'll let you skip the card...=)

Dana said...

I have a few friends who post crazy, silly "stressed out" pictures of them trying to get "cute" pictures for Christmas online. And then send a cute email with the link on it.

I had a friend send her kids over to carol (she stayed in the car!)

I felt guilty this year so I melted almond bark in the microwave, poured it into cookie cutters, wrapped it in plastic wrap (nothing fancy) and gave them out. looked much more elaborate than it actually was.

Anonymous said...

Okay, #1, I don't send any cards, I do it on email. That's partly laziness and partly environmental. After all, everyone reads them and throws them away. So I just "wasted" all that paper and stamps, time, money, etc.
As for neighborhood gifts, I'm tired of the overabundance of junk (food and useless Christmas trinkets). I pick stuff that isn't food (last year it was Mary Engelbreit magnet notepads for the fridge that were $1 at Michael's, this year it was gift tags that I made on the computer) and it easy to assemble/give out. And then when someone unexpected gives us a gift, I regift with abandon.
I don't want to feel "guilty" that I didn't do something, yet I don't think it's I can just let pass by. I do want people like who I visit teach to know I care. I just don't want to spend my whole life rigging up some elaborate gift.
(And homemade gift tags or $1 notepads aren't something I would feel bad if they threw away...unlike if I made a huge plate of treats or something.)
Anyway, life is WAY too short, make a few gift tags on the computer, then all you have to do is cut them apart, I packaged them in a ziploc baggie (so fancy!) with a computer created tag.

Karen said...

I'm thinking taking a cruise mid-December through the New Year might just fix the whole stress. Oh, wait you have kids.

Okay, here is the get to decide. set what you want to do and don't feel guilty about the rest. Honestly. Some years I send cards....others....not so much. Some years Christmas cards get sent in March. People laugh and think a few sandwiches short of a pic-nic, but that just may be all the appeal I have anyway.

The neighbor gifts get tricky for me. This is a bit more of a Utah phenomenon. There are years that I do them, others I don't as well. I know of people that will scour the stores the day after Christmas for neighbor gifts the following year. I have seen everthing from Christmas ornaments to treats. We have recieved reindeer poop, aka:chocolate covered raisins, Christmas Cd's compiled of their favorite Christmas tunes, homemade bread, fortune cookies in a red chinese food take-out container, cookie dough with instructions to cook, a whisk and bag of Hershey's kissed (We whisk you a merry Kissmas), Christmas card containing a their favorite Christms story. I could continue but I have more to say, and I have already hi-jacked your comments.

So, I guess what I am saying is this. Do what will make you happy and feel comfortable. If that requires more than is humanly possible for December, prioritize, decide what is really important to you and spread the joy through out the year. (There is no need for December to be the only month making you crazy.)(Can you hear my sarcasm?)So that is advice I have been given. It is sound advice....but I have yet to apply it. I going to work on that this year. I will do my Christmas cards in November and maybe I'll skip the neighbor gifts next year. That's what I'll do, it will be an either or deal for me...Christmas cards or neighbor gifts. (Never again in the same year. ha ha ha ha ha......)

Merry Christmas!

orangemily said...

We haven't even sent out birth announcements for Kella, let alone Chritmas cards. If I get ambitious I may send out an e-card.
One idea would be to buy something inexpensive and easy and keep it by the door so when neighbors bring by treats you give it to them right then (half my battle is getting out the door to deliver).

Jen said...

I don't send birthday cards or any other kind of card for that matter but I do make a point to send out Christmas cards. They are not anything special just bought at the store but I think its the thought that counts. I make time to do it. It is the first thing that I do after Thanksgiving, before the tree, shopping, baking and burn out.

Kara Thacker said...

The people that know you, know that you care because of what you already do and say to them. Paper and pictures are not required to say "You mean something to me in my life". As far as the treats...I get that too. I just be sure to say thank you, and realize that they are trying to be in the spirit of giving as well-or at least that should be the reason they do it. True meaning of a gift is that you don't expect anyting in return. Appreciation is just an added bonus if it happens. Take what you get as meaning that they love you and your family, and know that it doesn't have to be reciprocated. Coming from some one who doesn't do the card and neighbor treat thing, also know that a simple smile or willingness to help out means so much more to another person than treats and cards do.

KASH said...

I agree with Heidi, that one's a tuffy.

This time of year, many goodies and treats are taken around to neighbors. Many people are overwhelmed by the amount of sugar that ends up in their kitchens. I think you are doing them a favor by not adding to their waistlines. That can be your gift :) Wow, you are soo thoughtful!

HeidiPie said...

Ok, so I thought that Dana said...poured the chocolate "onto" cookie cutters then gave them out. I bet THAT would have been a treat.

HeidiPie said...

I can't believe you are getting so much stuff from people. That's great! We got one plate of treats...count Argh, oh well. I guess my gift is a nice waistline. Thanks KASH

Damselfly said...

Ah, I think most people wrestle with this question. It really, truly is hard to get out the cards and everything. I took a lot of shortcuts this year.

Annj said...

That is what is nice about only having 9 other families in our subdivision. It is quick and easy to give treats especially since I get together with my mom and sisters to make the treats it gives me a chance to get out of the house. I am not good at the card thing either.

Bonnie said...

You are cut out of the same cookie cutter I am. If I'm in the mood, I send out cards & do neighbor treats. I refuse to feel guilt for not doing so. I usually do cards about every other year. I'm to the point where I would just as soon not get all those random plates of goodies from other people. I don't do holiday baking & I don't need other people bringing me what they make. (that makes me sound like Scrooge, huh?_