And Receiving, we can't forget receiving.
I have a really soft spot in my heart for Christmas, it's a lot like a squishy rotten spot on a piece of fruit you were saving for a special treat. Don't get me wrong, it isn't that I hate Christmas or have joined up in some sort of ridiculous war against Christmas, I just have a fairly even mix of sweet and sour memories of the most expensive holiday season of the year.
I enjoy Christmas far more now than I did as a child. My brothers and I don't fight or tease each other anymore even if that does mean we only have a list of five subjects that we can talk about. My Mother is far less frazzled since she turned over the reigns of Christmas hosting over to other family members, so she has more time for making fudge instead of threatening to turn crying children into fudge. It's a wonderful time of the year, especially when you have children.
For more bang for your buck I personally recommend small children. You can get a paper towel tube and an old coffee can, wrap it in news paper and watch them go nuts with excitement. Once they get old enough to have preferences or just recognize stuff, that's when you're in trouble.
I have a toddler and a teenager. Christmas day will be great, but every day leading up to that is going to be a flurry of toddler tears because I can't make toys appear magically and my daughter totally unable to settle on a single thing she wants which is almost more frustrating. That is if my projections from last year are correct.
Christmas day on the other hand, is one of the most special times of year. We visit my Mother, I spend a fair amount of time making delicious things that I don't have to clean up after and I usually get at least one thing right for my kids that makes them ecstatically happy for at least the next 24 hours. That's really my goal, 24 blissful hours with the toy, game, book, etc. that makes them happy. After that it's pretty much back to the status quo.
My husband and I gave up on gift giving a few years ago, well, we say we gave up on it but there is almost always something for the other one to unwrap, even if it is fuzzy socks. We just get things when we can afford it and usually the other one is happy enough with this. Personally, I hate surprises. Specifically the surprises you get in little wrapped boxes. I hate it. There's too much tension, too much chance that you have to put on the pretend happy face and say "Oh, it's wonderful, thank you so much!" instead of "Have you met me? Hi, I'm the person who doesn't like neon blouses."
Surprises are for little kids. The choices really are just, toy, toy or another kind of toy with the occasional shirt or socks thrown in for good measure. If you put the shirt in a box? That counts as a toy. I'm a little worried about my daughter because there is no way I can afford even a quarter of the things she wants unless I can get myself adopted by Bill Gates, real quick. I'm not really worried about her getting expensive stuff because that isn't the point. I just don't want her to open a box or a bag full of things that she has no interest in and shows that the people that love her don't understand her at all.
I hated that growing up. I was nerdy and geeky to my core all through my life but back in the day, geeks were boys, nerds were boys and girls weren't. It took forever for my parents to catch on that I was stealing my brother's Star Wars figures for a reason. There were times that my parents got me, but for the most part my mother was just confused by my playing with "boy" toys and my father couldn't understand why I was playing with Gem and Holograms if I liked Star Wars. It's call diverse interests Dad! C'mon!
That's why I watch the occasional Anime, I read some of the books my daughter likes and play some of her games, I want to know what she likes and therefore, know more about her. So far my son is easy, if it's got wheels, pink, blue, green or purple, he loves it. Someday, he'll grow up and I'll get to find out what sort of things he likes and I'll check those out too. I probably wouldn't have learned about several of the things I thoroughly enjoy now, without my daughter's influence.
I hope that everyone gets something that makes them ridiculously happy for a least one day this end of year Holiday Season.