Friday Free-For-All #3

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s the first Friday in September!

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Have you thought about Christmas yet? No? Me either. But I was recently at Costco and was shocked to see Christmas displays already up. It’s not even Halloween yet!

Photo by Jan Sikes 8-18-22

My first response was in my head, but it was a loud, “NO!” Have we let all of our holidays become so commercialized that they are all about money?

We’ve been living the American dream for at least a couple of generations now, and I see the results in the youngsters coming up (my grandchildren in particular). They start making their Christmas lists in July. And it’s not like they don’t have plenty of stuff. Every nook and cranny of their playroom is filled. Something will have to go to make room for new things that will temporarily distract them.

Then there’s the pressure of picking the gift that will wow them. How do you even do that when they aren’t wowed by much? Over-stimulation abounds through media, school, TV, and videos. So, it takes a lot just to get their attention.

I’m always trying to think of something different for each of the five that they might enjoy. One year, I gave them gifts like a trip to the zoo, just one child at a time with me. That was fun, and they looked forward to their special day. But it was also a gift that had to wait for springtime before we could go, so maybe that part was sort of a letdown.

I have no solution to the dilemma. I’d love to hear your suggestions about how you approach gift-giving, especially with young children.

I’ve voted for several years to stop adult gift-giving, but I have one daughter who refuses to go along with that, which forces the rest of us to suck it up and search for something that might be special. I’m sure every family is different. As the children get older, I’d like for us to take the money we’d spend on ‘stuff’ and do a trip together instead. But I don’t know if I’ll ever get them to go along with that idea.

I suppose I should be thankful that some traditions are ingrained in my children. After all, that is also something that appears to be disappearing.

Remember when families sat down every night for dinner together? That seems to be something that is dying out. At one daughter’s house, the children eat their dinner by themselves. Both Mama and Daddy are still working when the children have their dinner. However, my daughter told me they are trying to have family dinners on the weekends, so that’s at least an attempt.

Again, I’d like your thoughts. Are traditions only created to be changed? Or should they be strictly adhered to? Are we losing an entire way of life in the next generations? Or do they have a better idea?

So many questions. So little time. 🙂

Let’s chat!

On a VERY different side note, how many of you reach for one of the reference books from Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi when you are writing? Well, there’s a new one coming!!

There is no purchase link yet, but I definitely will be adding this book to my reference section!

The Conflict Thesaurus, Volume 2:
A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles (Releases September 6th, 2022)

30 thoughts on “Friday Free-For-All #3

  1. HI Jan, I must be honest that early Christmas decorations annoy me when I see them. This particular holiday has become ridiculously over commercialised and lost a lot of its meaning. I don’t buy gifts for family members but I often bake them treats. Often the children come to my house and participate in the fun. I don’t suppose that will last much longer as they are getting older now. We eat together as a family every night although Terence isn’t always home during the week. I am always home and my employers know where they rate in my scale of commitments. Of course, I am lucky to be able to do that and it is only because I have unique skills that very few other specialists have.

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  2. Commercialism at its best. Since I no longer have any family in my life, I have no need to rack my brains on gift giving. It was easier when hubby’s grandkids began getting older, we gave them money. It’s the little ones that I had to get creative about what to buy. I think it’s enough once the kids are married adults. I decided to invest in gifts for the kids and cut the adults. They themselves decided to do the same and chose to do a secret Santa where they all drew a name and bought only one gift for someone. 🙂

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  3. I think it’s essential for parents/grandparents not to overdo it with the gifts. We typically talked to our son about his interests and made a list. We only got one big present for his birthday and Christmas. Parents who give their kids anything they want aren’t doing them any favors in the long run.

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    1. I totally agree, Pete. And I think parents who work busy schedules often buy gifts to ease their guilt for not spending more time with their children. But when gifts flow all year long, Christmas is no big deal. Thank you for leaving a comment!

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  4. I have a couple of these authors’ reference books and refer to them quite a bit. This new one looks like something I also need. We always had dinner as a family nearly every night when I was growing up, but I know things are different now. Families are so busy with activities these days it’s difficult to get everyone together. Glad your daughter is giving it a shot on the weekends, Jan. And Christimas? I know it’s just a few months away, but I want to enjoy autumn first. Have a great weekend!

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    1. I am with you, Teri. We always sat down together for dinner when I was growing up, and I carried that forward with my daughters. But as you say, things are different now, and lives are super busy. I totally agree with you about Christmas. I love autumn and don’t want to rush it. Thanks for visiting!

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  5. Gosh, I hardly avoid thinking of it. I even don’t want to see any pumpkins yet, since I am not ready for saying goodbye to summer… lol. But Christmas displays in the store… a no go!!

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  6. I do love having the book next to me in case I get stuck in expressing something 🙂
    As for gifts, each year gets harder and harder, except for my reader grandchild. They all have so much and I’m only adding to it. Most traditions have disappeared so I find myself trying to find my place in these changes. I like your idea for spending a special day with each, but still want to come up with something to open. The older ones are the toughest. We finally stopped exchanging gifts in my husband’s family and I think its time for the adults in ours. I do enjoy buying for kids in need and have involved my kids, and then grandkids with that 🙂 They really liked helping pick out the gifts for someone around their age.

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    1. That is a wonderful thing to do, Denise. My older daughter donates to children in need, which is a great experience for the boys to see and feel. I think they will continue the practice in their own adult lives. The little ones in my family always want something to unwrap, but it gets harder each year as they all have so much. I find myself buying small things because I think to myself, “where are they going to put it?” And since I take care of the girls, I get to pick up all the stuff they leave lying around after it loses its appeal. It’s hard to hold onto traditions. But as long as the holidays are filled with love, that’s all that matters. Thank you for adding to the conversation! Have a great weekend!

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  7. I have The Emotional Thesaurus and use it a lot when my brain is tired of coming up with new ways of expressing certain common emotions. It’s excellent and the new one sounds good too.

    Ugh… gift giving is so hard. And I only have one grandson to buy for. Five would overwhelm me. I think a “special day” is a great idea, or the family adventure, (though the little ones still expect something to unwrap). You might talk to the grandies about starting some sort of collection (dolls, trains, dragons, crystals, coins). Then each year you can add something marvelous to their collections. As far as adult kids, we make a donation to a humanitarian cause in their names (they have all the stuff they need). Merry Christmas!

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    1. I agree about the Thesaurus reference books, Diana. I refer to them a lot. I love your idea about starting collections. My youngest is seven and still loves Unicorns. 🙂 My oldest is sixteen and just got his first car, so for him, I am thinking a pre-paid gas card. 🙂 Then I have all ages in between. You are so right about the little ones needing something to unwrap. That’s part of the joy of Christmas, just watching their faces light up. Thank you for adding your thoughts to this mix! Have a great weekend!

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  8. We have stopped the gift giving to our families. The youngest Grandkid is 21 and we all agreed that the holiday is more meaningful without sweating what to buy. I liked Darlene’s comment about sitting down to dinner. We have always done that and as a result, we all have kept up with what is happening in our lives since that was one of the requirements to share at dinner time. I found it odd sometimes to have a kid rush in excited to share information and then say, “I’ll tell you at dinner.”

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    1. Awww, I love that, John! Saving exciting news for dinner is wonderful. I would imagine by the time my grandkids reach even 18, the gifts will change greatly, but for now, I still have a seven, eight, eleven, thirteen, and sixteen-year-old. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

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  9. I love the Thesaurus series. Wishing Angela and Becca all the best with the new one (which I’m sure I’ll grab).

    I hate the commercialism of holidays, too. I’ve noticed traditions are getting harder and harder to uphold, though I’m doing my best to keep them going in my family. My daughter went to a college where more than 90% of the students were from out of the country. She learned that we do more “Italian” things than the Italians do. I guess when my family came from the Old Country, they strove to keep doing the things they used to. That was passed on through the generations. But at some point, citizens of Italy let a lot of things go. Sammi was telling her Italian friends about traditions we assumed they lived with! It makes me sad.

    I have no solution to the gift thing. I struggled for years to get people to decrease the number of gifts and the amount spent. We’re all so spread out now, we’ve stopped doing most of the gift exchanges. But proximity shouldn’t be the answer. Maybe someone will have a good idea for us.

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    1. I love that your family fought to keep the Italian traditions alive. It’s true with every culture that traditions are being left behind, and that is sad. Sharing the true spirit of Christmas is harder when the family is spread out. But with modern technology, perhaps some scheduled Zoom calls would be a fun way to get everyone together. Of course, your parents and grandmother would need some help, but how joyful it would be to see all the familiar faces, even from a distance. That’s my first thought. It’s way different than sitting down around a big table and sharing traditional food, but still an option. I appreciate you stopping by and leaving a comment today! I hope you get some good suggestions from others.

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  10. I like to enjoy autumn – the fairs, the festivals, the holidays. I hate that Christmas is rushed. I never decorate until after Thanksgiving. I don’t have a solution, but I’m sad to see a lot of traditions going away.

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    1. It is sad to see so many traditions fading away, Joan. Of course, it’s all out of our control as the younger generations raise their families in their own ways. Part of Thanksgiving weekend in our home was always getting out the decorations and beginning the process of transforming from pumpkins to red and green. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by!

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  11. Growing up, the countdown until Christmas started after Thanksgiving. I’d hang a calendar on the refrigerator and mark off the days until Christmas. I’m not a fan of stores having decorations out starting in August, but I do admit to decorating our home (inside) the first week of November. I love the lights, etc. and it’s a lot of work to get everything down from the attic and then decorate. There’s something comforting about coming home from the day job to the beautiful red, white and green festive lights. I love your Friday posts, Jan!

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    1. Exactly, Jill. Christmas shouldn’t start until after Thanksgiving. You are right about decorating. It’s a lot of work and too much to just have up for the few weeks of December. The lights and decorations add such festivity to the home, and it is comforting to walk into. It immediately lifts the spirits. Thank you for stopping by. I’m glad you are enjoying the Friday ramblings. 🙂

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  12. I hate anything Christmas pre October. When it’s still summertime, it’s just plain wrong. I agree with you on the waste of spending on stuff ‘just because’, and I love your ideas for alternatives such as special days out and going away together. 💕🙂

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    1. I completely agree, Harmony. I hated seeing the Christmas display up in Costco. It takes all of the anticipation out of the holiday. As a kid, I remember the stores downtown painting Christmas displays on their showcase windows. And it was a treat to bundle up and go look at them. Thank you for stopping by and adding to the conversation!

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  13. My grandkids get books every year and love them. I am known as the book grandma! The older ones (adults) get a gift card to a place they like such as Starbucks or a favourite restaurant or store. That way they can get something they like or need. We stopped exchanging gifts with my siblings a while back as our families were growing but one brother was upset. As for meals, when we had our grandson stay with us for a few summers, he loved that we all sat down and ate together. It was something new for him. (and no TV while we ate!) As always things change but I still think kids enjoy family time. (going to the zoo with grandma would be such a treat!)

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Darlene. I love that your grandson gets to experience a sit-down dinner when he comes to your house. It is definitely something that has gone by the wayside with these young families. And definitely NO TV or cell phones while eating. I love that you give books. All five of my grandchildren love to read, and I have bought them lots of books over the years. Gift cards are always good, especially for adults, so they can get what they want or just have a treat. I appreciate you stopping by and adding to the conversation!

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