This year my extended family decided -- as I'm sure many others did as well -- to cut back on the Christmas presents. We didn't give them up entirely, but agreed to give everyone a little something, but to scale it way, way back. Which we did.
Nobody conferred this year about the gifts that were purchased, and the annual issuing of the holiday wish list all but disappeared for the adults. So, with no list, no guidance, and no suggestions other than a strong family agreement that we were to do "just a little something for the adults" by far the gift that we gave and got this year was none other than the lowly book.
I found it interesting that the near-unanimous gift choice for a drastically scaled down Christmas needed no batteries and came with no instructions. It was just a book; something to hold in your hand and curl up with on a cold winter's night. And not junky books, either. Good books. Best-sellers. Independent titles. Humorous books. Thoughtful books. Puzzle books. Exciting books. Historical books. Yummy books. And as all these books were given, they were accompanied by the loving, wistful and hopeful comment, "I hope you like it...and...I'd like to borrow it when you're finished." Among my Christmas stash are works by Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou, a book on the complete history of Sesame Street, two cookbooks and a book of ghost stories and tales from Ocracoke Island in North Carolina. My toughest decision is what to dive into first, although I've already thumbed through the cookbooks a couple times already.
It might be a coincidence that we all decided to give each other the same thing, but what I think is more amazing is the fact that when faced with a buy less, spend less Christmas, what each of us decided was most important was making sure everybody had something new to read...and something new to share when they were finished.