We need to talk

'Twas a week before Christmas and I was snuggled up to my new sweetie when it struck me that we should have "the talk".

Our relationship is very new, but now seemed like the best time to bring it up. A topic that makes so many couples (especially new ones) nervous and downright stressed: gift giving. 

"Mr. Romantic, as you know, I'm a minimalist. I'd like our relationship to reflect that. So let's agree now that if we ever decide to exchange gifts, they can only be experiences. I guess flowers, love notes, poems and songs would also acceptable." 

There's this pressure in our society for couples to buy each other gifts for anniversaries, Valentine's Day, birthdays, Christmas, and even in the spur of the moment just because. Well I don't want to be a part of it. I don't want either of us to feel that pressure in our relationship. As I've mentioned in a previous post, if there's anything I want or need, chances are I'll be going to get it myself.

Besides, there are so many other ways you can show someone you care than by buying them a gift. For instance, Mr. Romantic goes out of his way on work days when he can to spend 5 minutes with me in the morning to walk me to work adding 10 to 15 minutes to his commute. To me, that's worth more than some piece of jewelry or other trinket he could buy me.

Now, I also don't like feeling obligated to give gifts to anyone at Christmas, or at any other time for that matter. And I don't want anyone to ever feel obligated to give me gifts. However, I truly enjoy making my loved ones happy. Family relationships can make going off course tricky, especially when kids are involved. They're unfortunately conditioned to expect gifts.

So I compromise. I usually get gift cards for the kids (my daughter and my sister's kids). Then I set up a date with each of them where I take them out for lunch and to use the gift card. I honestly think it's the time we spend alone together that's the most enjoyable. They most likely won't remember what they bought with the gift card, but they'll probably remember the laughs and talks we had and the attention they got from me. The gift card acts more like a promise that our date will happen. It's something tangible until they get the experience.

This Christmas, when I gave my sister's kids the gift card, I told them that I'd be taking them out to use the card and that we'd be going for lunch together. They're reaction: a sincere "Yay!"

So there you have it. I can't change my family, they might always want (expect) gifts as tokens of love. However, I can make the gift more meaningful for all of us by adding my time and attention. As for Mr. Romantic and I, we've already talked about it so we don't fall into the obligatory expected gift trap. 

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