Now don't get me wrong, with 4 children myself I understand how hard the balancing act is between making my kids happy and only spending within my means. As glorious as it is to see their shiny happy faces as they rip open their presents, it is not great if their parents start the new year drowning in debt and worrying about how to afford three pairs of new school shoes.
One thing is for sure - saying thank you is a nice thing to do. It makes you feel good, and makes the receiver feel valued. We may not subscribe to the hand written parchments of old, with ruler straight lines and wafty words of gratitude penned from inky quills, but we do still subscribe to basics of liking to give and liking to be thanked.
During this season charity fund raisers actively appeal for the disadvantaged. They almost universally don't ask for presents - much preferring you donate cash - because this is pragmatically the most useful contribution you could make. If it's obviously more helpful than other gifts in the domain of charity, so economists remain perplexed as to the irrational paradox of continuing to buy each other 'suboptimal' presents?
Christmas is traditionally quite a gendered holiday, especially when it comes to children. Here are some lovely dolls to buy for the girls in your life, and some toy dinosaurs for the boys. And don't forget about the miniature cooking utensils and vacuum cleaners - learning how to keep house is, of course, all girls really want and need.
Maybe it's the global economy. Maybe it's a newly discovered sense of pragmatism. Whatever it is, this is without a doubt the first Christmas in recent memory that doesn't have me excited about shopping. And I know I'm not the only one! My friends and family seem to have been struck by the same anti-shopping - and even anti-gift getting spirit. So, while I've received the cookie-cutter answer "nothing" every time I pose the question "what do you want for Christmas?", I still do have my own ideas about the gifts I'd most like to give. I've decided this year to give meaningful gifts - in other words, gifts that keep on giving.