My Present Dilemma

It’s barely more than three weeks to Christmas. Now I have in my time, like a lot of folk, gone out and bought tat, cheap rubbishy nonsense, for the sake of having bought something, for the sake of having the shopping done when you are exhausted, and you just want to go home. But I think most things I have ever bought have been an expression of love, of friendship, of appreciation.  I have bought what I could afford, and had immense pleasure in the giving.  Conversely, I have received gifts, made or bought, and have felt loved and appreciated in the receiving.

This year I feel I need a different approach to the whole shooting match. In terms of the buying, I will be doing my utmost to avoid plastic packaging and containers. So: no nice smellies, unless it’s a bar of soap. No delicious biscuits, unless they’re in a cardboard box or a tin.  No foolish Christmas singing animals or cheap plastic toys that give but a few minutes of mild amusement. But just how rigorous, how absolutist to be, is taxing my brain. For instance, I saw a lovely sweater the other day. It would look great on my youngest daughter. But it was made of acrylic fibre, one of the worst offenders for shedding fibres into the water when washed. I didn’t buy it, but I regret not seeing her the sweater in it, if you see what I mean. 

And what do you say to the folks who usually buy presents for me? Do I ask that nobody buys me plastic wrapped items? Or would that be unreasonably forcing my views on my friends and family? After all, you wouldn’t buy one of those lovely wrapped Spanish hams for a vegetarian. Is it okay for me to ask that nobody gets one for me, because I don’t want to be responsible for its packaging? I don’t want to be rude, and I don’t want to spoil the pleasure of giving. Second hand books are a marvellous thing, and I can always find room for them. Ditto second hand clothes, but I think my best idea so far is that my cash strapped daughters gift me some of their time and energy, by painting the hall and landing. It badly needs doing and every time I see it I will be reminded of them. Genius eh?  

What do readers think?  Anybody else struggling with these issues? Would really like to hear your views.

 Liz Longden.

2 thoughts on “My Present Dilemma

  1. That’s great stuff Liz. Thanks. Wishing you a truly magical Xmas and may 2018 be the year that all your dedication to making things better bears good fruit.

  2. I enjoyed the post about your present dilemma. The giving of gifts is a mixture of pleasure and duty, if I find it hard sometimes to think of a suitable gift I must remember to be very gracious to those who might have struggled to attempt to please me. So unless I am asked what I would like then I mustn’t tell others what to do/ not do. It would be impolite.
    I reckon something that can be consumed is a good gift : your suggestion of soap, some luxury preserves, fine wine, a collection of local ales, homemade cake or jams, candles – that sort of thing. I enjoy making up a pot of spring bulbs that will be enjoyed each year, or giving some plants for the house/garden, even a garden voucher is nice to receive, spare gardening gloves, lifetime’s supply of garden twine, I could go on.
    There are loads of ways to treat someone without giving an object, my family often give tickets for a show, a concert, a spa day treat, dinner at a smart restaurant, even a weekend in a fancy hotel for special birthdays.

    For children, well of course it is always, ALWAYS books because they are essential, there is no end of choice and they are easy to wrap. If a child isn’t thrilled by a stack of new titles every year – well I don’t know what to think. Theatre trips also make good gifts for a child, it makes christmas / birthday last longer as there is something to look forward to later in the year. There are all sorts of activities that can be booked such as BMX track sessions, ice skating, sailing lessons……

    If asked I could go for any of the above although good wine is wasted on my uneducated palette. Also, photos of family would be very welcome, my photo displays are always out of date by years and I am a rotten photographer. I agree about practical help such as decorating, working in the garden, putting up those shelves – all BRILLIANT gifts if you can get them….

    If you were brought up to expect a pillowcase of toys then it is hard to make a change. Maybe ensure our own children have diffent expectations. Good luck, happy hols.

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