Husband’s Family Overspends on Christmas

Dear Mary,

My husband’s family spends lavishly every Christmas and it always makes me feel pressured to reciprocate. For example, last Christmas, they bought my four-year-old daughter a $300 DVD player. And they gave me a $150 gift certificate to my favorite salon. While their generosity is greatly appreciated, my husband and I can’t afford to break the bank Christmas shopping. Plus, I’m worried they’re sending my daughter the wrong message about the meaning of Christmas. How do I make it a nice Christmas for everyone without looking like a cheapskate? Shannon, Indiana

Christmas Gift

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Dear Shannon,

Could it be you’re putting pressure on yourself to be the Family Christmas Magician? You have my permission to turn in your resignation. You can’t control what other people do. What your daughter learns about the real meaning of Christmas she’ll learn from you and your husband, and not just from what you say. She learns from your attitudes and actions, too. Teach her that the gifts we give express what’s in our hearts. We shouldn’t give to get approval or to get something equal in return.