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Lead up to Christmas

I find Christmas stressful. Have for ages. Mostly because I feel there are a lot of expectations around it, mine as well as others. There is a “thing” in my family about me being terrible to gift for as if I don’t like a gift, I can’t hide it.

I seriously don’t like useless gifts. It could be useless because it’s an ornament (like, I like vases much more than statuette thingies, because they have an actual use as a flower receptacle), or it could be useless because I have more of them than I could ever need (platters. Seriously. Beau and I both got given them as gifts in the years leading up to our wedding and then we got given a whooooole bunch more), or it could be useless because I dislike it so much I would never use it (best example is this pink plastic remote control jewellery box I got given for my 21st, it didn’t work well and it didn’t fit my jewellery + it’s pink plastic). The thing that makes me hate useless gifts the most though, is that I cannot bring myself to get rid of them as someone *gave* it to me. So I end up storing/hoarding things I don’t like and then resenting them for taking up space that could be used for things I do like. What makes useless gifts worse is when they come from people who love and care for me, because then I get into this angst spiral of “I thought they *knew* and loved me, but they can’t do as they gave me something so wrong. So, they don’t know me at all and I shouldn’t care so much but I though they *knew*…. ad infinitum”. Then throw in the fact that I know this is stupid and that I am just being ungrateful. Dude!!! People love me enough to give me stuff, why can’t I just be happy???!!

It also works the other way too. Because of how I feel about “wrong” gifts, I worry that I could give wrong gifts to others! This isn’t so bad in my direct family as we’re pretty good about saying what we want and then I can just get them that and then a little something (like chocolate) added in. However, I went and married this guy who is one of 7 children. Yup. And they all buy each other presents. Except of course, I can’t leave Beau to buy presents for his sibs as he puts stuff off so much that he’ll be buying everything on Christmas Eve morning and the cost will be out of control and I’d still end up wrapping stuff, plus when he got them something weird, I’d partly responsible even if it was ALL HIM. Although they’re all so nice they’d actually like it anyway. So, I end up buying stuff for his family or at least helping him (in previous years, when it’s been up to him and he’s left it to the last minute and can’t find the *right* thing and is stressing out and putting down any suggestions I make, until we walk through another 4 stores mad with last minute shoppers and he can’t find anything better and we end up having to go back to the place where I suggested something, I start to hate him a little and even me getting to be right doesn’t help). It’s horrible.

So, this year I decided I would start early and make stuff, useful. Of course that whole starting early thing didn’t work out too well, but I did make a plan of various things I could make and that they’d all probably like and what was involved in the making.

So far I have made, a christmas tea blend, a spicy hot chocolate blend and some preserves. Today I also went out and bought fruit for more preserves. I think each will just get one jar. Each of the sibs should get 1 jar tea, 1 jar hot chocolate and 1 jar preserves, even if they don’t personally like them, they can offer them to visitors who come over. Plus, after researching on the internet I bought something else (small but I could see them all using it) to add to each set. I should also have enough spare jars of stuff that friends and extended family we see over the holiday period can get a jar of something too :) I’m pretty happy with what I’ve made, but as you can see, I can’t bring myself to just give them that. I really should value stuff I make more. I know I’m not the only one who finds that hard though!

Beau-mas can be extra hard too as previous years we have agreed on a one present per sibling/family and that it should be around $20 (although I’m pretty sure everyone was willing to pretend that anything up to $40 was got on sale for around $20). However, this rule was pushed for by someone who is now an ex and I can see that individual presents and more expensive presents are sneaking in again. In a lot of ways I wish we could agree on a secret santa type system where instead we could spend all the money we might on each of the sibs on one sibling/family combined and get them something really awesome and useful and potentially needful! I don’t see it happening though, as others love choosing and shopping.

Not to mention the hassle of trying to organise stuff for X-mas with an almost 2 year old, while 7months pregnant. Needless to say, it looks like Beau and I aren’t giving gifts to each other and neither have we bought anything for Sweets, for Christmas or her birthday. We kind of suck as parents I guess (although in the past month she has been given 2 aprons made by me as well as 2 finger puppets). Hopefully I’ll have time to shop or make something for her. Did I mention that Beau is working the 12 days up to Christmas Eve (which is his big family day anyway) and that this weekend he is doing 14 1/2 hour shifts + he is planning to go out 2 times this coming week. Helpful!

Anyway on to things I *will* make in the next two days (because otherwise the produce might go funny). Rhubarb and St$rawberry jam (because it’s the season and I want to taste it) from Ladies, a Plate and Rhubarb and Ginger Jam (because it is my go to jam, people love it, you can’t buy it and I only have one jar in the cupboard). Only sad thing is that while I appear to have a good crop of rhubarb, there isn’t really enough for me to jam up quite yet, so have to use bought. However, I’ll be gifting most of these batches away and mine should be ready then :)

Yesterday I made Feijoa and Cointreau Jelly. I pre-cut and froze feijoas back when they were in season. I was pretty preserved out by then, so this is my first chance to do something about it. Feijoa jelly is pretty much amazing and making it from frozen worked out fine, so if things next Feijoa season are crazy (what with having Mowgli and Sweets), I must find time to chop and freeze stuff for later. I must spread the jelly love ;)

Point of Fashion: very cold for one of the longest days of the year
Current Obsession: Is anybody out there?

{ 10 } Comments

  1. Jexia | December 17 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I think you do amazing!

  2. Matt | December 17 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Debbie’s family have a book-list tradition, where family members are expected to provide a list of desired books in advance of birthdays/xmas. works well!

  3. Margie | December 17 2011 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Yay! Your jams/jellies are delicious, and the drinks idea sounds fabulous too. I would much rather get a selection of stuff you made than some $20-40 whatever, and I am sure that beau’s family feel the same.

    I wouldn’t feel too bad about Ovvy either. She seems to accumulate a lot of things through the year through Ai Yai, and will get heaps from other people too. If you run out of time, you could always give her a spare tiny jam jar (empty) so she can have ‘jam’ with her dollies, or make some coloured play dough, or give her a set of dolly sheets (tea towels). Or none of those, so I can do them with her when I visit!

    2 babies will be expensive, so although sad Beau is working so hard, am glad that he is working hard too. I still remember the year when I went shopping with him for his presents. But we had fun, cos it wasn’t my money we were spending!

    I hope the holidays go smoothly. I will be thinking of you a lot!

  4. Margie | December 17 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Oh and by ‘$20-40 whatever’ I meant anything that forced you to get stressed out while shopping and was a rushed decision that started arguments. I don’t mean that bought gifts aren’t also very nice.

  5. Giffy | December 17 2011 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Matt, Book list tradition is neat! I love me some books :)

  6. Evie | December 18 2011 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the jelly!
    I could feel myself tensing up just reading about your Christmas shopping. So stressful! Thank you for the reminder of why I quit Christmas. I was finding pretty black trees and decorations tempting a few weeks ago, but it’s so not worth it for me. I just don’t cope!

  7. Giffy | December 18 2011 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    ZOMG Rhubarb and Strawberry jam is a revelation. First to scrape off the dregs and eat them. Then to begin work on the Rhubarb and Ginger.

  8. Sass | December 19 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Hey Giffy, are you coming to Jenni’s Xmas Eve thing? If not, I could come out and visit you some time in the morning and help out with anything you need done if youwant (even watching Ovvy while you do last minute stuff)? Lmk…

  9. zcat_abroad | December 19 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Christmas shopping is really stressful. Zcatcurious and I focus on the nieces and nephews in the family, and try to get something special _and_ useful/nice for the couples in the family. There are a whole lot of other things to stress about over Christmas, but I hope you have time for your little (and growing) family, too!

  10. Giffy | December 19 2011 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Thanks guys :) I’m feeling on to it today. Made the Rhubarb and Ginger jam and then lots of tags for everything and planning to make something for Sweets right now (she saw me making a felt toy for a friend of hers and she *needs* one).

    @Sass, I am planning on going to Jenni’s. Have to have everything done by X-mas eve anyway as that is Beau-mas day.

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