This past Sunday we celebrated Christmas with my side of the family. Due to the crazy schedules of some of my brothers, it’s always easier to get together early in December than try to celebrate later in the month.
The party was held at my dad and his wife’s house, and the whole family was in attendance. My family, my mom and her boyfriend, my three brothers, and my foster sister and her husband. It was great seeing everyone again (some I only see once a year). But in the middle of the party, I was struck by how much of my frugality seems to be hereditary. And how little our frugality affected the good time we had.
Over the course of the party, I noticed several frugal things:
- Family members bringing contributions to the meal. My dad & his wife did a lot, but they didn’t feel they had to do it all themselves.
- Aunts & Uncles going in together to buy gifts. This results in less financial stress for the giver and less stuff to manage for the recipient.
- Re-gifting. Yes, it was a perfect gift for the couple that received it, and yes, my family talked about it openly. We laughed about our frugality.
- Cheap, fun gifts. Lottery tickets were big for the adults this year. I don’t think any of us regularly play the lottery, but for some reason it’s fun to get 13 people together, all scratching tickets to see who wins. It’s not about the potential winnings. It’s about the experience of ribbing the person next to you, as they see if they uncover a third $200 for the win.
Days later, everyone is still talking about how fun the party was. But nobody is really talking about gifts we received or expensive decorations.
Instead, we’re talking about watching my brothers try to feed the bull that lives on the other side of my dad’s fence, the stocking joke we play on my dad every year, and the way Uncle Alex talked Mario Kart Wii strategy with my son.
The bottom line is that a good Christmas party is all about relationships. Will my kids remember every gift they received at the party? Probably not. Will they remember that their older relatives got down on their level to discuss things important to the kids? Absolutely!
Will I remember everything I ate? Nope (though I probably will remember that the food was good and I ate too much!). Will I remember the good natured joking that goes on every time my family gets together? For a lifetime!
So if you’re stressing about an upcoming Christmas party, or you’re hesitating to invite people over, because your house isn’t perfect, please don’t! Remember that celebrations are all about people, not things. Focus on making people feel comfortable, and your party will be a success!
Photo: Lynnae’s family.
What a great story! I agree that the ‘money spent’ doesn’t have anything to do with the great memories that will last for decades. And how cool that your parents and their mates are able to join in on family occasions, relieving everyone of the stress of dividing time and attention.
Sounds like a perfectly wonderful time! It is surprising when we look at hour family members and see how much really is passed down or just simply natural behavior. Thanks for sharing :-)
What strikes me the most has nothing to with finance – I love that both your parents attended along with both of their significant others. More divorced/blended families should take a cue from that. My cousins with divorced parents or other family issues are always pulled in half at the holidays – it sure is nice to see people act like civilized adults and have one big happy family!
Jill, I am very blessed in that our whole family does things together, regardless of the fact that our parents are divorced. I know that’s not the norm, and believe me when I say I’m very thankful for what I’ve got.
What a beautiful post, Lynnae. Thanks for the reminder – we can ALL benefit from it this time of year! Merry Christmas!
I whole-heartedly agree! Parties are about memories and experiences, not material things. Families would have less angst this time of year if they could focus more on sharing and laughter rather than on spending money. Some of the best holiday memories I have are those from gatherings at my grandparents’ house when I was growing up. We shared cooking, cleaning up afterward, and lots and lots of family history. It was interesting to talk to them about Christmases they had as children and realize how different ours were.
Thanks. Just reading your post made me exhale. Intuitively, I know that everything you talked about is true, but I admit to having been caught up lately with the “what” of holiday preparations rather than the more important “why”.