Dear Annie: Christmas used to be a time that I enjoyed. I have always enjoyed spending time with siblings and cousins who live in other cities and catching up with them. Over the years, our families have grown. Our older children have grown, and they have children of their own. Some of the younger kids have significant others who always join in with the family celebrations.
My family's gift-giving tradition is that we have a Kriss Kringle type of exchange for the adults and we all buy gifts for the children. In my case, I need to buy gifts for nearly 20 children/spouses/significant others. I am on a limited budget and honestly cannot afford to buy gifts for everyone, yet I still do because I am reluctant to say anything about it. After all, Christmas only happens once a year, and I don't want to appear to be a Scrooge.
Summer is barely over, and I am already dreading December. I would love to get through a holiday season without getting into a lot of debt. Any ideas would be much appreciated. — Broke but Still Spending
Dear Broke: Ouch. My wallet hurts just reading this. It's wonderful your family members are all so generous and appreciate the joy of gift giving, but Christmas shouldn't put you under an avalanche of debt.
I have a feeling you're not the only one in your family who feels this way, so try talking to your siblings and cousins. You mentioned that some of the younger kids bring significant others. If they're old enough to be dating, they're old enough to get a gift for a relative. You could include them in the secret Santa. That way, everyone spends less money and can spend more time picking out one thoughtful gift.
If your family is resistant to changing up the tradition, you can at least work on simplifying the process and reducing the cost for yourself. One option is to pick a uniform gift, one you give to everyone. For instance, you might have everyone send you a favorite dessert recipe, after which you compile them into a family cookbook with photos and attribution and print out booklets. You'll be giving people a gift that's unique to your family and that they can use for years to come.
Dear Annie: This is about the person who wrote about a social group that has potlucks where one member always takes more than his share, getting in line first, loading his plate, gobbling up his food and then getting in line again. Then he makes sure he's at the end of the line after everyone else is done, getting another plate so he can finish up what's left. (I assume he's the only one who gets seconds and thirds.) The folks have asked him nicely on several occasions to not go back for more until everyone has had a chance to get a plate, but he doesn't listen.
I would tell the rest of the group to give him one more chance. Then I would tell him that if he continues his rude behavior, he will be excluded from the group. Unless he has a lot of other redeeming qualities that make him socially desirable, I can't think of why they would put up with his rude and gluttonous behavior.
That's just my take. I am a senior citizen, and I may not be so tolerant of rude behavior as younger people.
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