You shouldn’t have. Seriously.

Timely torment: “My husband’s family celebrates Christmas To Excess. Every year it takes us hours (no, really) to open presents, and at the end of it all, we survey the heaping piles of gifts and wrapping paper and say, ‘This is just overboard. Next year we should really scale this back.’

“So this year, my husband and I took the bull by the horns and suggested that instead of the gift-giving madness, we could all chip in to adopt a local family for the holidays. We could forgo gifts, we said (except for presents for the actual children), and enjoy each other’s company instead. The response? Radio silence. And then: ‘But we LIKE buying you presents and watching you open them!’

“So NOW what do we do? We suggested a budget- and sanity-friendly charitable act and were rebuffed. We even suggested drawing names (to keep the madness to a minimum) and were rejected. Our budget is tighter this year than usual and we really can’t afford to indulge in Christmas Craziness 2011, but we also don’t look forward to being the couple on Christmas morning who gives everyone $20 gifts while we receive masses of stuff in return.”


— Carolyn Hax

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