Here's the funny thing about my mom: every year she swears in a cross-your-heart-hope-to-die kind of way that This Year will be "lean" in the gift department. Lean for a combination of reasons: she's low on the benjamins and she doesn't want to rely too much on credit; Christmas is too commercialized anyway; we don't want the kids to be spoiled and think that this holiday is all about gifts; other members of the family are low on the benjamins so we don't want them to feel bad if they can't give extravagant gifts, etc . . .
All of these are good and valid reasons, and every year, in our annual Let's Figure Out When We Will Have The Family Christmas phone call, I find myself shaking my head vigorously and saying "Yes Mom. Absolutely. I agree 100%. Do not get the kids Too Much, because they have more than enough. Right on, woman, fight the power."
So I carefully choose simple, but meaningful, gifts for my parents, 2 brothers, and sister. And I know that at some point in the season, my father and siblings are doing the same thing for me and my crew.
But we also know this: my mother is spending her precious, non-work time in a buying frenzy the likes of which we only see once a year. She is a frugal person, a person who will reuse aluminum foil, but at Christmas she cashes in all her frugality points for Presents. With a capital P. She plunks down cash, credit, or wampum faster than a gambler at a one-arm bandit; you can practically smell the plastic burning. Then, while she's wrapping the massive pile, she starts to think that maybe she bought too much. But it's too late now, the die is cast, the wrapping has commenced, we will be Gifted.
That's not to say that I am complaining about the coffee maker she bought us -- the coffee maker that rocks my world. This thing has a self-cleaning button, people. Self-cleaning! I love anything that self-cleans. And it makes a darn fine cup o' joe, as well. Sah-Weet! But all the other stuff that came with ole Joe? Yeah, that stuff was not part of the deal. Just gravy.
But I know she liked what we gave her, and she really does get the most joy out of watching other people open their gifts, not out of opening her own. She even calls the next day and asks if everyone has "settled down" enough to actually see what they opened. When we're happy, she is happy. So thanks, Mom, we are happy. Really, really happy. And totally ( cleanly) caffeinated.