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Christmas conversations

Fat Mum Slim /


I was lying on the bed at the local beauty salon getting a facial. Indulgent? Perhaps. Necessary? I kinda think so. I walked in a few weeks back and begged in desperation, “Make my skin young. Please!”

Did you know that your skin renews itself every 21 days when you’re 17? And as you age it slows down and you just look old. Hagged. A little bit worn out. Youth is really wasted on the young, isn’t it? I can tell you one thing I wasn’t thinking about when I was 17, and that was how my skin was skillfully renewing itself.

So I was lying on the bed in the salon about to have my skin seen to {apparently I also have pigmentation, and a few months ago my hairdresser found a grey hair. I’m OLD}, and it wasn’t one of those fancy salons that puts you into that cone of silence, lights a candle and you’re transported to heaven for an hour or so. It was one of those salons where the walls are made of cardboard, hot pots of wax bubble away a few inches from your face and you can hear the phone ring every 32 seconds. BUT it gets the job done.

A lady came to get her bikini done. She apparently only visits when it gets too long and he doesn’t even notice anyway. OMG TMI, SSHH ASAP. She also had issues finding a car park, the story of everyone’s life at this time of year. But the conversation I overheard most in the salon over that hour, and not just from the bikini lady? People were struggling to find what to buy the people in their lives.

“He just doesn’t need anything.”

“She didn’t even use what I gave her last year.”

“If we need anything throughout the year, we just buy it.”

“I just don’t know what to get him/her.”

*cue panic*

The guy at my local little shop asked me last Wednesday, “What do you want for Christmas? Not that I’m getting you anything, it’s just I don’t know what to get my wife. She has everything.”

I don’t mean to be the Grinch, and I’m probably going to do a pretty bad job of not trying to be… but if someone doesn’t need anything, don’t buy them something.

I wanted to really simplify Christmas this year, and yesterday as I was wrapping the presents for the kids I had a moment of panic that I hadn’t bought enough. I got a few books, a piece of clothing and a toy each. I hatched a plan to escape to the shops and get some more toys, because I couldn’t stand the disappointment come Christmas Day when they didn’t have enough.

And then my brain came back to earth and I realised it was enough. Because already the amount of stuff we have is overwhelming. They don’t need anything. They really don’t. And when I passed it all by Hubby, who might be the REAL Grinch, he agreed. No more stuff.

But most of all Christmas is about being together, about good food, family time and having a laugh or two.

So I told the guy at my local little shop, “She probably just wants to spend time with you”. I wrote down my favourite restaurant and told him to take her out to dinner. Like really take her out, not just say he’s going to. Book a babysitter, let her get dressed up and actually talk to each other.

And what do I want? A new face?  The skin of a 17 year old? Well, yeah that {if Christmas miracles do exist} but really, I’ve asked for nothing and I mean it. Not like when you say you want nothing, and then die of disappointment on Christmas Day when there is actually NOTHING under the tree. I just want to stop for a moment and enjoy the day, and be with the people I love. And eat prawns. And pavlova.

What about you? What do you really want?

photo credit: Sangudo

  • I asked my mum just last week whether not really wanting any presents for Christmas is a sign of getting older. She said her and my dad have been that way for the last few years. Maybe we are all going through a hangover of excess! There are two books under the tree for me from my kids and that’s all I want, ‘simple’ is one of my words for next year and I seem to be starting early!

    • Oh yes, I’m all down for simple in 2015. And for the rest of 2014.

  • Yea,yes,YES!!! I just discussed this in my blog last night. I don’t want STUFF, give me a voucher to something, a hair cut, nails or dinner out, much better than more stuff!

  • Christmas post of the year. Right here.

  • Aww I think that man’s wife will really appreciate your input – how lovely 🙂
    I like ‘experience’ gifts more than material ones.
    There’s no point having all the material gifts, the outward display of togetherness, if no-one is really feeling it. After a few rough years with the inlaws, I have realised this more and more. You gotta find it in your heart to mean it and to keep it simple.

  • I want a photo of my kids together. Lucky me my partner is a photographer. But unlucky me he is always busy. I like fridge magnets from locations I have visited. A 2015 diary and a facial. Simple list of wants and needs. Oh okay in a fantasy list throw in a vintage caravan.

  • Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid

    David and I were just talking about this today. For the first year ever, there is one tiny thing for each of us under the tree which cost less than $20. It’s been so liberating not to have to rush around buying presents, racking brains about what to buy and not splashing cash for the sake of it. All I want for Christmas is to laugh, love, be present and for me and my peeps to be happy and healthy. You can never have too much love, too many laughs or too much happy and they’re all the things money can’t buy, which just goes to show they’re priceless!

  • tammy

    I totally feel this way. My husband is big on buying gifts and kept bugging me. when I was doing my makeup I realized I was almost out of my foundation… So I told him to get me that – nothing fancy just a Priceline elcheapo!
    He was happy to have something to wrap and I was saved a trip to the shops 😉

  • Peta

    Such a great post – and so true. We all have too much stuff. I had some time this year so I made some Christmas cards and also a few gifts – marinades, chicken crumb mix and cookies and they have all been well received. I’ve bought a butter dish and saucepan for my father to give to me. Stuff I actually need. I think this means I have finally grown up!

  • I am totally with you. Stuff, ergh, no one needs more stuff. I told my family to just pay for my flight home, that’s all I wanted – and then that didn’t work out because of work 🙁 But nevermind, I will have a whole 2 days off in a row with my partner for the first time in maybe 6 months so that is more than enough.

  • All I truly want is for my family to call me for a chat, but they don’t any more. My family has become so fragmented over the past few years that we all just focus on our own little families now and no longer make time for each other. It would be the best gift x

    • I am so sorry that things are like they are. Would they respond if you called? I know it’s not the same, but maybe?

      • It’s tricky really, I wish it could be that way, but we hardly know each other any more. I’m tired of being the one who has to make the effort, you know? On the plus side, I have got back in touch with an older, estranged half sister I haven’t seen for twelve years, and that’s made me super happy this Christmas!

  • I like presents to be things that I wouldn’t usually buy for myself, not stuff that’s already on my ‘to get’ list. Nothing better than a spa or makeup voucher!

    • Last Mother’s Day I got a 3 hour spa session voucher and it was the best gift I’ve ever been given. I hope that’s a little tradition that keeps on keeping on!

  • For people that absolutely have to get me something (their line of thinking, not mine) I’ve told them a Lotto ticket or scratchie would be great… I don’t buy them but I like the idea of winning unexpected cash.

    Probably the favourite gift I am giving this year (which I don’t have to do til next month so that’s a bonus) is to my bestie’s son. I usually swing him some cash but somehow the fact that he adores my homemade mac and cheese came up in conversation… and so I’m making him a bunch of individual mac and cheese’s to go in the freezer for him to eat after sports training or whenever he wants. Might seem odd for a 12 year old but I’m loving the idea.

  • Hi Chantelle, we stopped presents for the adults (including me and hub) a few years back. We limit the grandkids to around $60-$70 each with me ensuring they get something to read & eat, something that’s fun, something they use/wear and something they want. As best as I can! We never wrap the grandkids gifts but have them in special ‘santa sacks’ and they adore opening them, often crawling inside. When we stopped extended family giving many years ago I wondered why doesn’t everyone do this? Isn’t the day (or season) about getting together and sharing food and fun if you can. It’s less trouble to us this way and so much less stressful. We figure the kids get their gifts from Santa (aka Mum and Dad) which is why ours are always pretty cheap (if you know what I mean) Merry Christmas to you and yours! Denyse

  • Oh my yes! Hubby and I kinda lost it at our families last year, we were sick of them asking what to get the kids or their KK, some were just saying things like “I just bought a new pair of …. Just give me the money and that can be your present”….this year we told them to be creative, if someone has ‘everything’ then hey can’t be disappointed with a surprise. And if you have to ask what to get my kids, don’t get them anything, seriously, take them somewhere instead, make some memories with them.

    • Tara

      Yes!!! Just yes! I am going to read this out to hubby and he is going to agree whole heartily “if you need to ask what to get my kids, don’t get them anything…” That alone says so much more.

      Thanks chick! X

  • planet8crafter

    My 5yo struggled to come up with anything she wanted for christmas! She’s not getting any particularly big presents and half her presents will be clothes (including underwear and shoes she desperately needs). I’m most looking forward to the day spent with my little family, a break from work with my kindle and hammock chair. A massage voucher would also be great too though 😉

  • Lauren

    Definitely! Is it a sign of oldness that when you open presents the first thing you think is “ugh, where am I going to store that?” I don’t need anymore junk. I don’t want anything else that I have to find a home for.

    All I really truly want for christmas is a sparkling clean and organised house that I didn’t have to lift a finger for.

    Or one whole day where I don’t have one single thing on my to-do list. A completely indulgent Me day.

    Yep, neither of those are under the tree for me this year.

  • Bron Slorach

    After watching the newsagents staff reactions to a plate of Santa sleigh biscuits, it’s really not that hard. The littlest gift can make big grins on adults.

  • Sasha @ Fromtheleftfield

    Such a good sentiment. I feel sick with guilt with all the ‘stuff’ I’ve gotten my girls this year. In my defence, I was so super organised (for once!) I’d forgotten I’d already gotten them gifts, and ended up with like triple. Oops. But they’ll be spread out for birthdays also… and maybe some Christmases for the next few years. Next year it’s totes getting pared back. And hubby and I save money through the year in a ‘coin jar’ and then on boxing day we might get something together instead of Christmas pressies. It works well for us. What I really want? To chill out! And to not have to worry about family dysfunction. That’d be the best! I’d happily trade all the gifts in the world for the removal of dysfunction and melodrama.

    • So totally am with you on the family drama part there sasha !

  • I haven’t had a present in years… Don’t need anything and I don’t want anything. I just like to see my fav people happy and laugh with them also drinking beer and eating pav! X

  • Great advice Chantelle. My husband and I recently bought some new works of art for the house so we just said let’s just do one small present each on Christmas day so we have something to open. When we did the Christmas shopping for everyone else we bought our presents to each other together, that way it’s something we really want. It’s kind of nice actually.

  • Ashley J

    I do agree. Your suggestion was spot on and if my hubby “thought” of that I’d be most pleased. I really don’t NEED anything… but what I WANT most of all is time. I alway want more time.The simplifying of life is paramount and I always need time to put that in to effect – then everything else will knock on positively.

  • Deb

    I totally agree, my hubby is currently out shopping on Christmas Eve to buy me something because he didn’t know what to get me – seriously, I don’t need anything. I don’t want for anything, after events in the world at the moment I’m happy to just have my children and my family, now is a great time to reflect on what Christmas is really about.

  • maddie

    Prawns & pav!!! That’s what Christmas is all about! Have a wonderful day you gorgeous lady x

  • I’ve always considered myself a person who isn’t hard to buy a gift for but this year I really didn’t want ‘anything’.

    The things I do want are more long term items to help me build my skills for my business and are intangible things that people can’t buy for me (like more time for myself and goals I’d like to reach (health, exercise, weight loss etc)).

    There are of course the things I want that are purely that instantaneous lustful wants like that new handbag and cardigan that I can only get shipped from the states…

    We’ve kind of given up on Christmas since 2012 as we got dad home after a 3 month stint in hospital and we were so exhausted by the trauma and the physicality of caring for him when he first got home that we just cancelled Christmas. It was so pleasant not doing anything that we did it again last year and are doing nothing again this year. I think we are saner for it. We decorate sparingly, small gifts and a good family lunch. No dramas.

  • For some reason people seem to think that they have to get a gift, so just buy something {that a lot of the time doesn’t actually mean anything to either person}, parents seem to think that it is about quantity & not the thought behind it and in general there seems to be a need for the newest thing rather than enjoying what we already have that is working.

    If people feel the need to get something for someone, make it thoughtful and from the heart. Buy them something that has been handmade by someone who struggles to make a living {either locally or better yet overseas, there are loads of different places to do this}, buy a struggling overseas family a goat or pig or schoolbooks. Make your gift mean something to more than just the big chain stores!

    Christmas should be about spending time with those we love, catching up with those we always seem to busy to see and even just picking up the phone to let someone know we are thinking about them. Everyone gets so caught up in life and then come the holidays spent it running around and stressing. It should be a time about relaxing, connecting and being, not about presents!

  • Nic

    We’ve had the same thoughts. Our boys are getting lots of practical things in their Santa sacks – new bags, pencil cases, lunch boxes. They’re getting bikes from Santa and Lego kits and books from us. This year there are no DVDs and no electronic devices anywhere near the tree. We were just wondering (as we put things together) if it’s sad they’ll be excited by new bags and colouring books – but it’s really not. They can be envious of the neighbours kids electronic cars and scooters but those things are just… Over the top in my opinion.

  • Melinda

    Thankyou for reminding me! 17 years ago I gave my mum and dad “time together” for their anniversary…I babysat my little brother for them, and they had the whole glorious day together. Tragically, dad died in a car accident a week later, a painful lesson that life is short…and it’s not about the “stuff” that clutters our lives. Your post just reminded me that the best thing I can give my BF’s hubby is time with her…so he’ll be receiving a babysitting voucher from me, so that he can have a lovely night out with his wife. Heck, I’ll do the same for my hubby and organise at least a few nights out next year for us…it would certainly beat this years record!!!
    Merry Christmas!

    • Kristie

      Best present ever

  • Kristie

    Agreed. With two little ones, we have decided about four little treats, with a couple of books from mum and dad under the tree. The magic of Christmas is in knowing Santa visited and left you something you requested. The abundance should come through the love, joy and food shared, not the stuff.
    We built a house this year and moved in a week ago. That is our gift to each other. We don’t want to fill it with stuff, we want to fill it with memories……oh but a night out with sitters to watch the last Hobbit installment is on my list 😉

  • Have a magical Christmas Telle where you can find the time to be really present with your kids and loved ones. I would be blissfully happy with a sleep in and a foot rub. The events of recent weeks have shown me how blessed I am and how I already have everything I need.

  • Lynda

    I think Christmas is about spending time with family, good food, some nice wine and chatting. We only buy gifts for our 2 boys and try and buy useful things but they always get a few things they want on their list and are very excited to get presents on Christmas morning.
    I have bought my husband a gardening book and a game he wanted and I got a pedicure as that was all I wanted.
    Every year my Mother in law buys me clothes that never fit and I usually end up giving them to the op shop.

  • Liesje

    I so needed to hear this. This year I’ll write a letter to my familymembers why I love and appreciate them.

  • Ko

    Best Blog post ever – this in itself is a is a gift! We didn’t do gift for each other this year. Time to SLOW was on my list. Sleep in, eat seafood, drink champers, nap, read, watch a little TV & my wish was granted – I plan on putting it on repeat today, first 2 real days off the year! Best Christmas gift ever! Hoping you, your family and al your readers received what they wanted and need too. It really is quite lovely. Xx

  • So agree, I too had that moment of panic – did I get the kids enough? – especially as I often overcompensate for most of my family living overseas! The best gift I got from a friend was voucher towards a charity to help educate girls which she bought in our name. Very cool!