Chez Nightfly tends to be a little over-the-top at Christmastime.

Both Ladybug and I have family tradition to uphold, I suppose.  And we are careful.  We start budgeting for things early because we have numerous cousins and close friends we like not to neglect.  And then there’s always that “oh, they would LOVE this” overrun, but we set ourselves strict guidelines.  (They have to be strict in order to keep violations small and manageable.)

Lately I’ve tried to set myself to a new tradition as well, that of giving away something for every new thing that shows up under the tree or in a stocking.  When you reckon up the various numerous cousins and close friends sending swag back in the other direction, this becomes an admitted challenge, but it’s worth doing.  I even got a head start this year with a few items that I discovered with tags still on from last Christmas.  (If I never missed it, others certainly need it more than I do.)

Sometimes it surprises me that my wife and I live in a house we pay for ourselves… I get old throwback suspicions that someone’s parents are somehow footing the tab.  When stuff starts showing up from other people?  Well, then I suspect that I’ve bamboozled the world, and that it’s really meant for some other, nicer person who looks like me, and of whom I am doing only a cut-rate impersonation.

So far I’ve only discovered two antidotes.

The first is gratitude.  Plenty is a blessing, and privation is a handicap; unless one is choosing hardship for a greater good, it doesn’t help to forego a gift.  It tends in fact to backfire, and looks like pride or snobbery (if not actually becoming so), and makes others feel miserable for trying to be nice.  Better to be happy in receiving as well as giving.

The second is watching others be happy.  My younger relatives are a delight as they tear into wrapped gifts and see what’s inside – half the fun is the discovery, and the other half is the excitement of everyone together laughing and enjoying themselves.  It takes a little while for them to really realize that the gifts are theirs to keep and enjoy all the year.

I think that this year my impersonation may have improved.  The time we all spent together was lovely.  I hope that you and yours also had a fine Christmas together.

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