We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
- My fairly large extended (sibs and their kids) agreed years ago on a no-presents policy. That makes a family gathering more like Thanksgiving. Good. You can only bring wine or homemade cookies.
- Once kids reach 18, minimal presents. A winter coat, or boots, a book, or a framed photo, or similar. Presents are for kids. Youth will always appreciate money. though.
- I refuse to throw a Christmas party. It's just too much. Thus the Marital Veto is exercised. I am usually happy to throw a party, but not now.
- Christmas cards? They can go out late - or wait until next year. Who cares? We do not have a good family photo to use this year.
- Mrs. BD and I like to give each other a thing to do, to share, like a trip, a long-weekend away someplace nice, or an exercise program. My kids give me a stinky cheese. Perfect. When they get rich, they can give me caviar and rare stinky cheeses.
- The Tree. Mine keeps getting smaller despite protestations from the youth. Too bad. To keep it simple, I keep all of the tree ornaments in a chest in the living room, and I throw the lights in the trash every year. CVS has new.
- One party per night. Party-hopping wearies me.
- Church. We get there. It makes all the difference.
We have 8 days of Hanuka to spread out the parties - but when the kids were little, each one had a party/recital.
Gifts were never a focus for us - perhaps because there is no pressure to compete with Christmas here in Israel. Perhaps some real money together with the chocolate coins for the kids.
Because it is traditional to eat fried foods to commemorate the miracle of the oil - and every office cafeteria and waiting room has deep-fried doughnuts - we have simplified the food as well. This year we tried onion rings, which were a big hit.
My husband and I do not exchange gifts - we already have enough stuff. Instead, we find cool things to do - trips, restaurants, museums, plays - so we will have things to talk about when we are old.
No gifts to siblings or other relatives, either. We all have enough stuff. Now that his parents are dead, there will be no more Christmas drama of how he is a Bad Son for not spending Christmas with them. And we will get no more cast-iron cats as a present.
We spend the day by ourselves, in our PJs, watching movies and eating steak and tiramisu. Church is Christmas Eve.
If I might make a suggestion, rather than throwing away the lights, offer them to a middle or high school science teacher. They can use them in Physical Science or Physics classes for electricity experiments. The ones they order from the science supply companies are quite expensive, and the bulbs are blown easily. The ones in the Christmas tree lights are remarkably sturdy, and will last for years.