The other day the first calendar of the season arrived at my house, and I know that the Christmas catalogs will soon be filling up my mailbox. There won't be as many as there have been in the past. The internet has taken care of that, but still, they'll come.
Don't get me wrong. I love catalogs (at least I love thumbing through them) and I love Christmas with the music and the gatherings and the whole spirit of things, but...I'm ready to be less of a gift recipient these days. I like simplicity. I don't have a lot of space, I don't actually need anything, and I don't buy a lot of things beyond books. So, I was talking to a relative and reminding them that a couple of years ago, my niece and I wanted to have everyone in the family contribute to charity in lieu of giving each other gifts. Somehow we never got that going. I realized that I couldn't orchestrate everyone else's ideals or interfere with their ideas of what constituted the perfect Christmas. But I finally realized that I could control my own Christmas. Sort of.
So I mentioned to the relative that, although it was a bit awkward requesting that people not buy gifts for me at Christmas but instead donate to a charity and simply give me a card or a note, that was what I wanted to do this year. I really like the idea of a gift that will help make the world a better place, and I wouldn't be interfering with anyone else's Christmas since I would continue to give more conventional gifts to everyone else. She suggested that, for those people who want to give something more direct, I ask people to give me e-books instead, since they take up no space.
So, yes, I'm thinking Christmas. I know it's early, but I also know that some of my family members start early. I hope that no one thinks I'm stepping over a line by suggesting such a change.
So how about you? Have you ever tried an unconventional type of gift exchange? How did that work out?