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Christmas Gift Buying

By Sandy Long

Many of us of the older generation remember getting oranges or candy for Christmas in our stockings and perhaps one toy along with clothing under the tree. Until I was 16, my grandmother always bought me underwear for Christmas. Unfortunately, she wore the old time bloomer-type of undies and purchased the same for me. Imagine the embarrassment I felt as it was the tradition for each person to hold up their received gifts to show everyone in the family what they had gotten!

Gifts used to be easy to buy for family and friends and were about quality not quantity. Boy children got the latest cowboy hero products; girl children got "Suzy homemaker" gifts or baby dolls. Books and clothes were common gifts for children too--books to entertain and educate, and clothes because they were needed. Husbands/dads got ties, socks, a tool, or a new razor; wives/moms got fancy handkerchiefs, costume jewelry, a new dress or an appliance for the kitchen. Extended family and friends got homemade food items or homemade crafts. Gifts were more person-specific and less commercially driven.

In today's busy world of the "keeping up with the Jones" mentality, gift buying has become not only more complicated, but a lot more expensive. Furthermore, gifts are less about who the person is and what gifts can be afforded, and more about bragging rights around the company cooler. Instead of buying within a budget as in the past, now it is "go into debt" to provide the biggest and best gifts on a person's list and about how big the pile is under the tree.

Gift giving has become impersonal to most people, but not to me.

Being a trucker and having little time just before Christmas to do my gift buying, I buy Christmas gifts all year long, tucking them away when I get home until December. In my travels, I look for things that I know the people I buy for like and that would be special to them. Some of these gifts cost very little, some a little more, but very few are expensive. Yard sales provide fruitful shopping grounds for collectables that might fit into someone's collection and also for craft gifts that I don't make. Books to fill out a series or even sometimes first additions can be found at yard sales or second hand shops. I find many children's clothes and books at these places too.

One of my favorite places to shop is the "Everything $1.00" type of stores. Most of these types of stores are found in malls that have truck parking. I have a sister-in-law who loves cat objects and many can be found there. My stylish mother was tickled to death last year to receive two lacey attachable collar type affairs that she could wear over a sweater or plain blouse to dress them up. My brother was delighted with his "proud to be an American" coffee mug and uses it regularly when home off the truck. With three great nieces under 7 years of age, it was a toss up whether to give them one larger gift each or several smaller gifts. I found that they really enjoyed their gift bags full of little dolls, age appropriate grooming products and things to play dress up with. All bought for a dollar each.

Gifts are not about the cost, but about the person receiving the gift and the person giving it. You should think about the person you are buying the gift for, their likes and dislikes and their circumstances. This shows that the gift buyer truly likes and appreciates the person they are buying for and was thinking about the person when the gift was bought.

Christmas has many meanings for many people and gift giving is a big part of the season. Remember that giving someone a gift is about the giving and making someone smile, not about impressing the neighbors. A true gift is one given from the heart and so will remain a delight for years to the person who receives it.