“Glory in the heights above to God, and on earth peace among men of goodwill.”
This was what the angels sang on the night that Jesus Christ was born. The birthplace was in a stable in Bethlehem, with the infant laid on a manger.
None of the shepherds that night was instructed to bring a gift, much less an expensive one. God’s will was for these poor shepherds to learn through His angels that His Christ and King was finally born.
So, does it really matter to God if a person’s offering is expensive or cheap — or if that person could not present any material gift at all? Isn’t love the greatest gift of all?
Hundreds of years after Christ’s birth, many traditions have been observed during the Christmas season. One of these traditions is gift-giving. And it’s a tradition that the commercial world has exploited to its endless benefits.
Today, gifts are often measured by their monetary value and no longer by sincerity.
Did this husband really want to break the family tradition of his wife? Is the desire to be more practical in these difficult times a sin in the eyes of God?
Posted by u/notagrinchaita on Reddit’s r/AmItheA–hole forum, this man shared his family’s current financial predicament: “My wife (36F) and I (38M) have been married for 10 years and have 3 kids (8, 5, & 3). We both work full-time and live fairly comfortably. I work in sales and have had somewhat of a down year commission wise. At least compared to the last couple years. Coupled with inflation this year and the cost of raising 3 growing kids, our budget has definitely tightened a bit. Nothing serious, we just aren’t saving as much as we have been able to in years past. But also enough of a change to warrant a careful look into our spending, at least in my opinion.”
OP further related about his wife’s family who has a Christmas tradition of gift-giving, which is just fine if it wasn’t for the amount expected for each gift and the number of people they must provide with gifts.
And so, he decided to discuss the matter with his wife. He wrote: “I had a talk with my wife about where we can curb some of our spending. I suggested that maybe we have a talk with her family about their Xmas tradition of buying literally everyone a gift. In my eyes, that’s the easiest way to cut out hundreds of dollars of spending in one swoop. She took great offense to this and told me that her family has been doing this tradition for years before I came into the family and she’s not going to be the one who tries to stop it. She said that we are just going to have to find ways to cut spending elsewhere. She told me I was a jerk for even suggesting such a thing when I know how important Xmas is to her family. She suggested we just don’t buy gifts for each other this year instead. But that’s only a fraction of what we are spending on gifts.”
OP tried to ask his wife for more suggestions, but she could offer none. His wife is already used to their cozy lifestyle, including ordering Starbucks every day. When OP suggested that she cut back on her Starbucks consumption, his wife accused him of being extravagant himself for playing golf 3 times a year.
So, in OP’s opinion, not fully participating in his wife’s Christmas tradition is still the easiest way to save.
Is he a fool?
A Reddit user gave the following comment based on personal experience: “We’re having a rough go of it right now — we moved this summer and between the unexpected costs of that and some other shit, we are a financial mess right now. I finally caved and told my husband that I think he needs to pick up more shifts at work until the baby comes in December (he’s a SAHP and works part-time) and immediately — like, right there at the table while we were talking about it — he popped out his phone to make it happen. I felt like such shit about asking and I hate how much harder it makes our lives, but we’re a team on this whole thing. I cannot fathom being in a position where the wife is like, nah, I will change nothing about my standard of living, budget be damned.”
Another AITA community member advised, “OP, take her phone, take the gift cards, give them to your eldest, they know what to do… (Maybe bribe them with a gc or two) Give that woman a reason to stop giving you excuses… Start recording expenses – what you spend on yourself, what she spends on herself, what you spend on the kids & house. Add in the expense of her family’s tradition onto her portion of the spending and then present it to your wife… A family should not suffer because of a holiday tradition; just because you two decide to opt out does not mean the whole family has to stop giving, just don’t include your family…”
Meanwhile, this person wanted to defend OP from the harsh, impractical comments of other Redditors: “If she wants to spend money on Xmas because it’s important to her, she can donate her December Starbucks to something that makes her happy and only use the drawer cards in November. That’s $600 towards the Xmas budget right there. I really don’t understand the criticism you’re getting here, OP. Your wife can’t have Christmas spending and unlimited Starbucks and college and retirement funds and meal boxes. You’ve already cut your personal spending to zero for the rest of the year, something on her list has to give. And if she really values the holiday season, that doesn’t have to be Christmas, but it has to be something significant to make a debt without changing the way you do Xmas right now.”