Christmas: A time for giving

Give and take, actually. Christmas is full of unspoken family rules about present buying. Who are your staple recipients, who gets a higher budget, what can you actually afford. Even what does that person deserve.

Last year I posted about a family member who crosses me off their ‘shopping list’ because they had heard I wasn’t buying presents. I did end up buying everyone a small gift each as I felt I wanted to acknowledge them all! There was a little confusion and this one family member was embarrassed that I hadn’t let them know and that they hadn’t bought me anything. This is fine because I do not buy to get a present back. Just a thank you is a nice acknowledgement.

Anyway, this year the same family member made a comment (almost a complaint) that they felt obliged to buy a gift in return for receiving one. This exaplains the year before, however I felt I needed to share that although I am always thankful for receiving and I never expect it, I didn’t feel a pressing need to go and buy a present in return.

I explained how money, time and size of family can play a part in my thinking and my value of Christmas present buying itself.  I like to give thought to gifts and spend time with people rather than buy some rubbish they dont actually want or need! The family members reply was that I could go to Poundland and buy anything, just something, in return. The point was evidently missed. I choose not always return with a gift!

The people who I buy for are the people who I feel are a part of my everyday world. I give to them because they are kind people who deserve a little treat! I sometimes give a small chocolate or I offer to babysit, or even just give a framed photo of me and them. But I do not give because I know someone is getting me something or they have got something. If I didn’t think of you before, there would be a reason. Harsh but true!

Martin Lewis from Money Saving Expert says:

“Perhaps the real gift is to release someone from the obligation of buying you a present.”

I could not agree more. Do not buy gifts just to receive them and do not go overboard so that the recipient feels a need to return a gift as a way of saying thank you. You make the choice and the recipient should not pay to receive. It’s like getting a card in the post but having to pay for the stamp!

– Lauren

Books of 2015

With some inspiration from Instagram and other bloggers I have decided to write a list of all the great books I want to reread and introduce myself to throughout 2015. Life can be hectic and some people say they can’t make time to read. I however see it as they usually won’t make time for it, choosing to prioritise other things ahead of a book. For me reading is a must and is time well spent!

Reading takes you away from your worries just for a moment and releases your imagination. It helps you form opinions on certain topics, teaches you new styles of writing and new vocabulary is inevitably picked up. Reading for pleasure is an inexpensive hobby yet it really enriches your life. In a part of the world where there is free access to endless amounts of books it seems a shame to not be grateful for the opportunity to read and make the most of what we are fortunate to have!

So for 2015 the following books are what I plan to read. Of course books are not always our taste and sometimes get forgotten. Other books can also pop up in our lives so this is a flexible list which I will keep returning to and adding titles to. I am not very good at writing reviews and I hate to be a critic of people’s art so I will probably write a short post on each of my reads and say whether or not I liked it! Oh and the books are not in any specific order, I read a book when I feel ready to.

The Book Theif

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Jane Eyre

The Secret Garden

The Railway Children

Rooms

Divergent series

Before I Go To Sleep

The Rosie Project

The Fault in Our Stars

The Help

The Reader

The Kite Runner

A Clockwork Orange

The Diary of Anne Frank

Looking for Alaska

Animal Farm

Gone Girl

Of Mice and Men

Nineteen Eighty Four

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Taming of the Shrew

The Wasp Factory

Elizabeth is Missing

Their Name is Today