Even though we're all grown-ass adults, my fixed-income mother insists on getting my siblings and me Christmas gifts each year. We've repeatedly told her to focus on the grandkids and leave us out, but she continues to buy us gifts that she can't afford and we don't need. I like receiving presents as much as the next gal, but I would rather she kept the dough and enjoyed her retirement than unwrap yet another pair of plaid flannel jammies. How can I convince her that there's more to Christmas than giving gifts?
Present Pooper (woman, 42)
Dear Present Pooper,
It can be near impossible to tell your mom what to do — especially about something as deeply ingrained as Christmas traditions.
It may be too late to change her ways this year, but at your family's holiday festivities, you and your siblings should let her know that you're all going to shake things up for the adults next year. Decide on what you want to do and sell it to her by making it sound like a whole heap of yuletide fun.
Some ideas: Pick names or do a Yankee swap, so you're all only buying one nice gift. If your mom is crafty, how about suggesting that something homemade would mean a whole lot more to you than a store-bought gift? Exchange handmade ornaments. Or go entirely gift-free and do something fun together as a family instead.
If she balks at your plan, you may need to give her a little tough love. Tell her that if she keeps buying gifts, you want receipts. That way you could return them and give the money back to her, or buy her something she needs.
Another option? Let Dr. Seuss do the talkin' for you. Sit down together to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas and crank up the part where it says: "What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?"
Good luck and God bless,