It's no secret - I'm a humbug. I don't really like the holiday season. I don't like decorating the house or putting up a tree; I don't enjoy shopping and rampant consumerism; I find Christmas movies to be unnecessary, cheesy, and generally annoying. I'm at a point in my life that I don't need many things, and so I hate trying to come up with ideas for gifts. Occasionally, I enjoy baking Christmas cookies and going caroling with my dad (he plays trombone, I play baritone), but that's about the sum of it.
This year, we aren't doing gifts for anyone except our son. Parents are still going overboard, but with siblings, we've simply exchanged cards. I haven't worked since mid-November, and things have been tight. But this has been an exceptionally great Christmas, despite the lack of gift-giving and gift-getting (or perhaps, because of it).
With my brother and his wife, we had the opportunity to spend some really great time together going to dinner and to a Pacers game. My brother and I got to laugh and talk and catch up, while my wife and sister-in-law had their own girl time.
With my brother-in-law, I had the opportunity to spend several hours in the woods, tracking deer and hunting. He's a great guy with a terrific sense of humor, but in the six years I've known him, despite our overlapping interest in camping, hunting, fishing, and guns, we've never really had an opportunity to connect over a shared activity.
We spent four days with my in-laws and had breakfast and coffee and dinner and watched movies. I spent several hours with my wife's grandfather in his kitchen, listening to him tell stories and talk about his life.
With my parents, I've helped bake cinnamon rolls, drank coffee, went to see "A Christmas Carol," and took a whole family day to play games, listen to music, and eat great food.
Really, the best gifts this Christmas have been the gifts of time. I don't think there's much better than that.