If you watch any Christmas movie worth its weight in film, you'll learn that the season isn't about gifts. It's about family and love and relationships and giving and overeating.

Most kids' eyes light up when they think of Christmas because it means that Santa will be making his list and checking it twice and, quite possibly, dropping off a new Play Station or Oculus Quest or whatever the latest, hottest gaming console is. (Santa's elves have all attended MIT since I was a kid, obv.)

Family Christmas - Photo by Shannon Redmond
Family Christmas - Photo by Shannon Redmond
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Most adults look forward to the season for a few reasons, with the gifts being one of them.

And it's not just the "getting", either. The feeling you get when you pick out the perfect gift for that special someone on your list just can't be described. The joy you get when you see the joy on their faces when they open the gift you picked out for them is something that drives many to enjoy the season so much.

Getting a great gift is always awesome, especially when it hits on a special feeling or memory. Each year my friend Jessica sends a 3-D, pop-up Christmas card and, each year, I look forward to receiving it for a few reasons. The main reason: I cherish Jess's friendship. Though we rarely see each other, we do keep in touch online. Another reason I like getting the card: I always post a video of me opening the card because I know that Jess likes to watch the video. It warms my heart to know that it makes her smile to see me open the card.

Adults (speaking from my perspective, anyway) also look forward to the season because of family: it seems that the only time we see some relatives is around Christmastime. Aunts and uncles and cousins who may live a few states away often make the trek "home" to spend the holidays and hang out for a few days, and those days are often cherished.

Family Christmas - Photo by Shannon Redmond
Family Christmas - Photo by Shannon Redmond
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The third reason adults look forward to the holidays: the food! For me, it was my Aunt Rose's rice dressing (Neil, do you really have that recipe? I NEED IT!). For Christmas Eve it was always gumbo, potato salad, and lots of sweets (homemade, of course). On Christmas Day, the roasts, hams, rice dressing, salad, fruit cocktail, leftover gumbo and potato salad, and more sweets adorned the tables at our house, and many a great time was had around those tables.

Gumbo
Staff Photo
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Now that I am grown and have no children of my own, Shannon and I either split our time between our families or we spend our time at her place in Pittsburgh (hoping for a white Christmas, of course). My family does the Dirty Santa game, whereas Shannon's family still puts all the names in the hat and each person picks one to buy for. This year was a Pittsburgh year.

A few weeks prior to my arrival in Pittsburgh, Shannon and I agreed that we'd forgo gifts to each other this year. I, not being the argumentative type, agreed. (It also helps that I am cheap.)

Here comes the embarrassing part: what I heard was "let's not buy each other any gifts this year". What she said was "let's buy each other just one gift this year".

Well, it just so happens that I DID bring something that I had purchased for her just a few weeks earlier: a fleur-de-lis-themed ceramic pot holder.

Staff Photo
Staff Photo
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When I got here and noticed that there was, indeed, a gift for me under the tree, I wrapped it up right quick and slid it under the tree on Christmas Eve. (Whew! Disaster averted!)

Though I enjoy giving gifts as much as I enjoy getting them, I really enjoyed this Christmas with Shannon. It wasn't about opening gifts or wondering if she liked what I got for her; it was just about being together.

Not having to clean up the mess of wrapping paper strewn about the floor and not trying on the new clothes or playing with the latest gadget did kind of make it not feel like Christmas, but just being together is enough for me.

I think I like the idea of a "no gifts" Christmas, mainly because I already have enough stuff. Maybe instead of getting each other things, we can get each other experiences. That way, we can give those experiences as gifts. Gifts that won't clutter the house AND will allow us to spend more time together!

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