Christmas presents for my sisters

Hi Brooke,

I love Christmas – I love having a live, decorated tree in my living room; I love surprising my husband with a gift and celebrating our marriage anniversary (which is also around Christmas); I love going home and seeing my family.

I’m not such a huge fan of all of the other gift buying that seems to be expected over the holidays, however. Prior to my marriage with my husband, my sisters and I always spent around $50 on each other for Christmas plus we’d buy gifts for each other’s significant others amounting to 6 additional gifts. Now that I’m married, there are a lot more people to buy gifts for in my immediate family (my husband has four kids, both of sets of our parents, and each other). This year, we decided to spend most of our Christmas budget on his kids and our parents and each other and that’s it. I planned to get each of my sisters something small within our budget, thus breaking with our tradition. I knew this would cause some drama because one of my sisters in particular believes that the more money you spend on someone, the more you love them, which I don’t see as true. I let her know what I would be doing this Christmas and that I loved them and they didn’t need to feel like they had to get me or my husband anything.

here are my models:
C: money allocated for my sisters for x-mas
T: I should want to spend more money on them
F: guilty
A: thought loops about spending more money; convince myself I should spend more than I wanted to; act with resentment toward my sisters
R: I feel guilty and resentful

C: money allocated for my sisters for x-mas
T: I will find the perfect gift for them with this money
F: excited
A: search for a unique gift that I think will be meaningful for each person
R: I show my sisters I love them

The thing is, I am stuck in my unintentional model (which I know is also a thought!). I do feel bad with breaking with tradition; I do feel stingy. I feel guilty for spending money on other things that my husband and I value. Like, for example, I could increase our Christmas budget and spend less money on clothes for myself for the month. Or, I could try and make some money on the side and then spend it on my sisters. But the thing is, I don’t want to. I want to like my choice. The reason I don’t want to spend more money on them is because I think the way we used to do Christmas gift giving doesn’t work for my husband and I this year. I also don’t think that spending a certain dollar amount means that I love them any less. It just means that I’m choosing not to spend money on them and I want to be OK with that. Clearly, I’m not OK with how I’m thinking about this.