Christmas: Time to Change Unwanted Traditions

beau sapin

Last year, I wrote a post on Christmas Financial Stress. Among my in-laws traditions, one of the most important is… buying. Buying gifts I should say. The more of them, the better. Can’t count them? Even better!!

I never really liked this tradition as Christmas to me is an opportunity of spending time with family and close friends. Thing is, we spend 3-4 hours unwrapping. Once we’re done, some of us have to leave for another family reunion… Don’t get me wrong, I love my in-laws just as much as I love my whole family. I simply don’t think that Christmas has to be complicated and involve financial stress.

That’s why we briefly discussed the topic with them last year… with a big fail as a result. Too little too late I guess. Well, I promised myself we would come back this year with only one option: a small gift exchange between adults and a small amount of gifts for kids.

How We did It

Changing such traditions is not easy. Mainly because it implies emotions. It can easily result in arguments, which we didn’t want.

We first started talking about it between us two (Mr. Husband and I) in order to identify why it didn’t suit us. Deep down, we realised it was more a matter of values attached to Christmas than financial issues. We concluded we wanted more quality time and for our two little boys associate Holidays with family rather than gifts. Of course, we also mentioned the money involved and felt the amount spent was insane. Still, we decided to put emphasis on quality time for our discussion to come with the family.

Playing with Strategy

My husband impressed me. He played with more strategy than I thought! Last year, our plan failed, mainly because his brother insisted on giving gifts. His mother then followed suit. My husband decided he needed to talk to him first and see if he was open to a change. He didn’t understand at first and rejected the idea almost instantly. However, my husband insisted for him to listen to his thoughts. He reminded his brother how we all like to play funny games. He illustrated how it never happens on Christmas because we lack time… time spent on unwrapping gifts. He continued, saying how he could use the money saved.

Surprisingly or not, their conversation ended up with both having an agreement! We had one more ally! Yippee!
So I called up his sister to ask her opinion. Guess what? She already wanted to have a small gift exchange because she wants to save money for buying a condo next year with her boyfriend. Cherry on top, she already had mentioned it to her mother! I was real happy!

Taking Time to Explain and Staying Open for Compromise

The night we approached my mother-in-law with an exchange in mind, we were already six people around the table wanting a change. Each couple took his turn to explain why we thought it was time for an exchange: quality time, getting older, saving for something else, etc. She had no choice but to respect it. She added she wanted to still buy one gift for her children, which we finally accepted: she made a big compromise, we had to make one too. We made things clear though. One gift only…one! And also that we would not give back, except for the exchange.

A New Start!

I now feel a lot more confident towards this period of the year. The excitement has even come back and the stress is gone. I still know we’ll have to plan ahead and put a little money aside for the gifts that we are giving . However, I know I can also expect times of joy. For sure, this year, we’ll create lifetime memories! Changing traditions is sometimes hard, but it might be worth the pain. We had to have a fail last year in order to succeed now. We had to literally plant the idea in their mind in order to enjoy the result later. It might have taken some time, but we are now all comfortable with the decision, which makes it even more exciting!

If you’re facing a financial stress issue, remember these three steps:

-Identify your reasons
-Talk one on one first and identify your allies
-Take time to clearly explain your reasons and stay open to compromises

Last but not least: ENJOY! 😉 Wishing you in advance the best Holidays ever!


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