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Upcoming Holiday Madness

[Holiday 2009] is just around the corner, and it seems that the retail industry is starting sooner than historically in plugging the sales, touting they’ll have lower excess inventory nearer the holidays, and to take advantage of sales sooner than later.

I can remember growing up as a kid, getting just a crapload of gifts from all sides of the family, and from Santa, which was truly awesome as a kid, lots of new toys to play with, and hopefully avoid that one ‘holiday sweater’ from someone in the family. I realize that as you grow up into adulthood, the shower of toys dwindles, which I am perfectly content with. These days, I am more excited to see my relatives, and maybe have a small exchange with my immediate family. A few years back, the family got into the ‘gift card exchange’. It was nice, because it was pretty much free money to stores, but it took an element of anticipation our of the recipient, and took the thrill of finding that ‘special’ gift for someone away, replacing it with a plastic card with a company brand on it. Useful, but boring.

The other side of my family has been doing the ‘White Elephant’ game for a number of years now, along with getting the Matriarch a gift. Now, the while elephant game it fun, for.. Maybe 10 minutes, then it becomes a game of thievery, mind games and plots to steal that one gift that you really want (or to end up with a bunch you can use next year to re-gift)

My problem with this game is this 1) you’re supposed to give something of yours, you don’t want anymore – 99% of the stuff I’d part with is computer related stuff, useless to anyone else. I don’t keep the cliché knick knacks around the house suitable for re-gifting. 2) I’m not a fan of going to the dollar store to buy crap that will end up in someone’s junk drawer. I think in the past, I’ve given home-brew, or some beer related item, mainly because that side of the family likes good beer.

Both sides of my family have parents and grandparents of the little kids that shower them with gifts, and the non-immediate family may purchase one gift vs. many for the kids (or we would spend hours opening gifts) which is great. I would much rather spend my Holiday spending time with family, talking, and seeing how everyone is doing, than watch everyone open 40 million gift wrapped trinkets. It’s been hard to get a gift list out of me the last few years, just because I’m more into seeing family I think, and the stuff I want, is expensive.

What does your family do for the holidays, whichever ones you might celebrate? Do you do the huge gift exchange, celebrate multiple days, or plat the family-melee and run yourself ragged over the holidays?