Mindfully Gift Giving Without The Holiday Judgy Pants

I have decided our opinions on gift giving around the holidays are about as diverse as our beliefs around parenting. Some of us may spend months searching for the “perfect” gifts for each person in our lives while others wait until a sweet gift beams us in the head and a holiday gift shows up the following June. Some make all things homemade while others wish for new shiny things with lots of sparkle.

But one thing I do know is true- there appears to be rules about gift giving and if you are not following the “right” rules, then out come the judgy pants wagging their ugly sweater hipster motif of, ‘You’re Doing It Wrong!” So, I promise I am going to try to leave my own judgy pants at the door, but frankly…..I am just like everyone else, I am trying my damndest to find the middle way.

Some folks talk about how ridiculous the rest of Americans are for going overboard and how dare we want for anything. I have even learned from some hipsters that we are now doing it wrong if we buy goats for third world families, a once perfectly acceptable way to gift give only a few years ago (I think…..Hell, who knows). They are now rattling on and on about the different websites we should be tracking to make sure every item we buy does not come from slave labor or at minimum the items are only good enough if we buy them used from some schmuck who bought it new at the Walmart last holiday season.

Listening to the upper crust folks, they speak of this immense pressure to purchase not just the right gift, but it also has to be expensive and better than last year. I hear the same fear of not being able to be good enough to fit in with their peers when during the day after Christmas their showing off does not match or one-up their friends and family.

Just like when talking parenting and all other things created to make you endlessly feel unworthy, I will return to the one and only truth I am actually qualified to speak on and that is Myself.

I am certain that I am in some strange category of tree hugging oxymoron because I can on the one hand make my head hurt over trying to recycle, all the while, I will waffle over a pretty pair of shoes for weeks before buying them. Yep- haters get on board, I wanna preserve my little piece of the world for my daughter, but I swear I will be damned if I do it without some sparkle (and nice shoes).

And I get damned tired of being made to feel like a hypocrite because I want both. Perhaps its all a big lie and I cannot have both despite what I do, but I am gonna hang in there with my three inch heels on trying.

Growing up in my house, Christmas was what I refer to as the great giveaway. There were four of us girls and we loved the holidays! Sometimes we barely made it to 2 am before Santa gifts were unleashed and it was an intense amount of stuff, but what I cherish now is that my mother wrapped each and every gift individually with pretty bows and ribbons. My Dad had this cackle that signaled his utter joy in seeing us excited to share in the moment together. It is true that I can barely remember the stuff and true that much of it does not matter- but it mattered to them and to this day I would never want to make them feel bad or less than because they got caught in the Christmas madness that we all can and do. My truth here would be from Maya Angelou, “When You Know Better, You Do Better” and just last year my Dad said that he realized that he would have liked to have gone on more trips together instead.

Oh and how about ask me about some material items I own? Likely you will get some maybe too long story about the item and the relationship I have with the person for which I purchased it or purchased it for me. A woman once made an off-handed comment about my super fabulous hot pink handbag I have and the next thing she knew I was telling her about one of the most fabulous women I have ever known and how it was my going away gift. Don’t ask me about my jewelry unless you want some part of my life story and now my relationship with my best friend jeweler Georgia. Someone recently asked me about the carat weight of a recent piece and I laughed because it was a perfectly reasonable question, but I had no idea because that did not matter to me! But let me tell you about the journey, the craftswomanship and collaboration in the ring and it might be a 15 minute conversation!

So honestly, sometimes it’s like this……I feel bad if I think buying a goat is weird. Then I feel bad because others tell me I shouldn’t give stuff and I should only give money so when I help a family get their Christmas wish list, I am not only helping big brother Target-Walmart-SlaveLabor, but I am told I taking away their ‘right to get their own stuff’. Then I am told that I am just a stuff-grubber if I post pictures of my new pretty things that I want to tell you some long drawn-out (likely for you awful) story about where and how that came to be and I feel bad. So then my family and friends want to give me gifts during the holiday I can’t decide if I want to be excited in utter joy (because they are supplying my bad habit of shoes and purses) or tell them I am now being told I am currently on a no-gift diet and they need to return them promptly for a goat…..or clean water in a needed country. I am sure that would go over like a turd in a root-beer float as my family sometimes already thinks my behavior is too “women’s-lib” as they would say.

Yes, its obviously true that we can struggle with our relationship with stuff. I am just going to find the middle way and remember that we are all Good Enough. It seems that our philosophy and relationship with gift giving maybe a symbol of our relationship with ourselves and to wear our judgy pants about someone else seems mean and hurtful when we are all just trying to get it to ‘our right’. It seems possible that our relationship with things returns to the power move of intention. If I post a picture of my new purse I want you to see, please don’t make me feel bad about it, I really just want you to ask me about the story behind its meaning to me.

Besides, if every single human made not one more purchase, I think some economists would get a little freaked out about the whole market collapse thingy. So I say during this holiday season, buy your goat, your water, your cheap crap from a big box store, have an intimate relationship with local shop owners, recycle the hell out of what ever you can and if you can limit your vices- do it. Gift Giving can be the middle way and maybe with some meaningful intention setting, we can continue to guide ourselves towards Our Own Good Enough.

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I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 20 years in practice. I am in love with people and our peculiarities.

2 thoughts on “Mindfully Gift Giving Without The Holiday Judgy Pants”

  1. Alicia: First, let me say I get your point & realize the concept isn’t something to laugh at, but I just had to tell you that you took me down a couple roads of memory lane; some about my family & experiences, but also, down some memories of the journey we walked together: us laughing joking, or making smart-ass comments about some things that previously held nothing but pain. Inappropriate at times? Perhaps,. oh well, it’s still F.P.2.M! I found myself LOL several times because I could totally imagine you going off about certain things you mentioned: shoes, jewelry, & feistiness always=Alicia to me. Thanks for the trip & the laughs.

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