The music series will finish up on Monday. Sorry.

I’ve begun Christmas shopping in earnest, and I’m overwhelmed.

We’ve written a list so we know whom to buy for and have some guidelines as to what. The Kiddos are mostly taken care of right now and my Patient Husband is respectably covered, although he’ll probably end up with one more thing.

Most of this will be done online because we live in the hundreds of miles from many family members. Let someone else bother with the shipping. It’s not that I don’t like the folks at the Post Offal; I just don’t love them enough to spend that much time with them.

Regardless, I’m overwhelmed. For example, there is one family who always receives a version of the same gift from us, a Wolferman’s breakfast assortment. Easy enough, right? And yet, while paging through the Wolferman’s catalog for something they’ll enjoy, my brain just shut down. After a while of figuring out what assortment or sampler or gift thingie was the best for them, my brain dial-toned. I was only turning pages.

I’m not even a third of the way through the list, and I’m overwhelmed.

There are people on my list who genuinely need things in their lives, and for them, I have no problem shopping. Need = clearly defined. Send something and meet the need. That kind of giving is a joy.

Others have no need and very little desire. They’re the ones who overwhelm me.

We live in a broken world. So many people I cannot give the things they need or want that might make them happy. I can’t abolish poverty or give a grieving family back their dead baby. A young mother is ill with cancer, and I can’t give her health.

My mother regularly receives a large gift from a family member. This year, she said to him, “I know about how much you ordinarily spend, so would you mind if this year, you gave me a donkey?”

He replied, in a droll voice I can hear in my head, “Sure, if you have a place to put it.”

My mother laughed. “No, but I know someone who does.”

She’s thrilled that she got her donkey, just the way I’ve already gotten a goat. For her, it means that instead of a fruit basket or a sweater she won’t wear very often, a family will have the resources to escape poverty. We’d all like our gifts to be so meaningful.

Instead I find myself surrounded by plastic toys and cute fleece thingies and breakfast basket assortments, overwhelmed by buying for people with no real needs. It’s overwhelming because I want it to matter to them, and at the same time, I know it probably won’t.

Where’s my Christmas spirit? And how can I revive it?


  1. bloodinside

    I never understood the idea of x-mas presents for everybody. I just give them to mother/father & girlfriend, the rest doesn’t really matter (except my grandparents, which i rarely meet so i have no gifts for them same way), cause i didn’t even meet them at the x-mas dinner,
    so why should i care?

  2. Jason Block

    I know you HAVE the spirit, it is because YOU care. I am a material guy, but I love this time of year, because I can give to others who understand.

    And I think you have the spirit all year round. Trust me on this.

  3. Diinzumo

    I am completely, utterly stumped on what to get people. In this world o’ plenty, everybody already has what they need or they buy it. I like the act of giving, but give what?

  4. philangelus

    Bloodinside, our list *does* only consist of parents, grandparents, and siblings, plus obviously our children (and one another.) Then there are several friends we want to give gifts to because they’re awesome friends. Unfortunately, when you count in two large families-of-origin plus divorced/remarried parents and then all the “little gifts” like to the mailguy and the UPS guy, it does balloon out to like 35 people, and that gets overwhelming.

    Jason, thanks, but I don’t have any real Advent spirit this year. I keep praying for it, though.

    Diinzumo, I’m with you. Most of my gift list consists of people who are surefit of stuff (hence the goat) so the challenge becomes getting them something they didn’t already know about and will love anyhow. I’ll send you an email with the best gift idea ever if you’re interested–I can’t post it because one or two of my blog readers is getting one and I don’t wanna spoil the surprise. 🙂