You Got What for the Holidays?!

Since Jeff and many of you have been talking about gift-giving, I thought I’d weigh in (give my opinion) on the subject. It’s only my two cents (my unimportant thoughts), so take it for what it’s worth (don’t give it too much importance or significance).

About 10 years ago, I made a decision.  After running around and stressing out (feeling emotional pressure or tension) to find the perfect gift by Christmas Eve, I decided that I would no longer give Christmas presents.  I told my family the next year not to expect any from me and to not buy any for me in return.

It was a controversial decision among my family members, but I got tired of trying to be thoughtful (showing kindness and consideration to other people) on a deadline.  I found myself starting earlier and earlier each year — first November and then October — making my lists and racking my brain (trying very hard) to think of that perfect gift that would please each member of my family.  Perhaps because I dislike shopping so much, each year I came to dread (having the feeling of not wanting to do something) it more and more.  Not only did I dread the shopping, I started to dread the entire holiday season because of what it represented to me: frantic (feeling panicked) buying and endless commercialism (focus on buying/selling and making money).  In the end, I gave up (didn’t try anymore) and I told my family they should give up on me as well.

The only exception (something that doesn’t follow the rule) I make is to give my niece (my sister’s daughter), who is still young, holiday money each year to buy whatever she wants.  She’s happy and so am I.

That’s not to say that I don’t give gifts at all.  My family, especially my mother, has become accustomed to (adjusted to) getting a gift from any time of year.  If I see something I think she’ll like, I’ll buy it and sent it to her, no matter what time of year it is.  For me, that makes the most sense.  I was thinking of her right at that moment and I wanted her to know it.  She doesn’t seem to mind (to dislike it), so that has worked out (been acceptable; been successful).

I’m not saying that I don’t like receiving gifts either, of course!  The strangest gift I’ve ever received, however, was a set of facial cleanser (liquid cleaner for the face) from a student, and a male student at that (in addition)!  Of course I thanked him and appreciated the thought (sentiment; feeling), but it left me wondering if he was trying to tell me something.  It’s true that he had to stare (look directly) at my face for an hour a day, three times a week, so that may not be too surprising!

What’s the strangest gift you’ve ever received?

~ Lucy

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32 Responses to You Got What for the Holidays?!

  1. emiliano says:

    So Lucy you are also an upstreamer ?
    Welcome to the group, I thought it´s me the odd one.

    To me you took a personal good decision…´s so crazy to be on the stream of buying things
    for everyone just like an obligation.
    I prefer like you to give gifts the moment I see somethig nice to the person I want…..

    Happy Nice Christmas Lucy for you and your family.

  2. Betty says:

    Hi, Lucy, thank you so much for still writing for us during this busy and stressful period of the year.

    I had been working hard all day, very tired, and then had to use the computer to do some online banking before the bank’s close of business for the day.

    Then, as usual, I go to ESLPOD immediately after finishing my online banking.

    So nice to find your article above, and can’t help writing something myself.

    So you are a very good daughter for your mum (mom in USA, but mum in UK). I am happy to learn that.

    I wish my mum is still alive, I miss her so much. I tried my best to buy her whatever I could last time, took her to holiday etc. She left us after a short illness ten years ago, I seldom talk to people too much about how much I miss her, because she was a very strong lady, helped many people in her life, and she would not want to see me sad about her not being around.

    I watched a programme about a very successful English lady some years ago, she said she was so successful in her career, but she was crying when she was driving on her way to work. She could not understand why she cried. Finally she realised that it was because her mum was not around any more otherwise she could share the job of her success with her mum. That was the only thing she could not achieve in her life.

    Let all the mothers and daughters share all the joy and peace together or in air this Christmas and every Christmas.

  3. Betty says:


    Sorry, Lucy, I think I should say:
    Let all the mothers and daughters share all the joy and peace together or on air (NOT ‘in air’) this Christmas and every Christmas.

    I hope I have got it right this time.

  4. magda says:

    I know it is hard to go shopping and buy the right gift, but I use buying presents for all my family. However, I don’t receive many presents, but I don’t care. It is a pleasure for me see the beautiful smile in their faces and the bright in their eyes. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  5. Daniel says:

    Hello to everyone,

    I did not know there were women that dislike shopping, that is already a news to myself.. . . .

  6. emiliano says:

    Daniel, yes there are a lot.
    Cuca is one of them by all means.
    Even my daughters don´t like very much, just only a bit more than their mother because I like shoping
    more than my wife and they have something from her father.
    Some years ago I was even more fond to buy things but now I´m going down.
    Betty I miss my mother every day but I have so good memories from her that she is alive
    inside me.
    Take a happy relax.

  7. milkykung says:

    Hi Dr. Lucy Tse

    First of all, I would like to say “Thank you so much” for creating eslpod very regularly. I have been a big fan of eslpod and find all the podcasts very interesting. The scripts are so well-written that makes me surprised on how creative one can be producing such a wide-range of conversations. I also love the sense of humour in those scripts too. It often makes my day 😀

    Regarding your Christmas shopping, I totally agree that I am bored of shopping things for everyone just to be nice to them. I find it hard not to let down if I’m not given something in return. Though I believe I’ll get used to that soon ;D

    Lastly, I wish you a brilliant Christmas and New Year ^^


  8. Peter says:

    Tell me about it!
    No matter how hard you try you never ever can satisfy ur friends with the gifts you get them. There is always some complainings behind your back ,of course.
    I am with you on that. I stoped trading off gifts ,or as you put it ,gift-giving and gift-recieving.
    The best gesture is to give the money so they can buy whatever they want.
    But,there is one problem here.
    If you don’t get anything for your girlfriend ,you will be a dead meat.
    R u kidding ,there is no frigging way to get away with that.
    No matter what ,get sth thoughtful for the Miss.:))
    I m happy , that you get out of it. But for men,it is impossible to get out of it safe and sound.
    Ask Jeff ,
    Does he dare not buying anything for his wife,unless he wants to spend christmas night and New year eve in a Hotle close to his place.
    Back me up on that.
    Lucy can’t understand the delima we are wrestling with.
    We cant live with Women ,and we can’t live without them. A true Vicious Circle my friend

  9. Peter says:

    See , Lucy ,
    Even you couldn’t get totally out of it.
    Still you get something for your mom and you niece still forks you over.

  10. Peter says:

    You got me at : take me for what it’s worth
    Thanks Sis,
    You gave me a christmass gift already with the above expression.
    I will treasure my gift.
    Thanks God,
    You are not gonna deprive us from the gift of knowledge you’ve been giving out generously for God-knows how many years at this linguistic station.
    Thanks Lucy,
    Everytime you blow my mind!
    Every single time you get me with some new terms.
    Everytime I am getting close to believe myself that I have sth to say, bang , there you go! a new term that I have never ever herad of before.
    It never fails sis,
    You ate something
    How did you get that far Sis
    You are killing me here.
    I know some people out there is judging me as a crazy person. They might assume that it is natural for Lucy to know all these because she studied it ,and she was born with it.
    But, guys you are totally mistaken .
    Here ,I have been in touch with native speakers I had native-speaker girlfriends. I m telling you guys they can’t come even close to what Eslpod is offering here.
    Let me tell you guys , I have had tons of English tutors and attend Lots of English classes. There is no frigging way they come even close.
    She is something guys
    Take it from me , I have been students for my whole adult life. She is from beyond.
    Thanks Lucy for the gift of knowledge ,
    Move here in Toronto and you can make at least 50 dollars per hour doing what you do
    Money back guaranty sis,
    You can make a fortune here,
    Your generous contribution never go unnoticed Sis
    God bless your heart!
    All sort of success for you sis in a new journey you are about to embark on.
    Happy holidays Eslpod ,and fellow students

  11. Tania says:

    “Deck the hall with bells of holly
    ‘Tis the season to be jolly,
    Don we now our gay apparel
    Troll the ancient Yule(Christmas) tide carol.”

    My best wishes for happy Holidays to,


  12. Tania says:

    Hi! All the best for all our blog friends and for all ESLPOD friends.

    Dear Emiliano, thank you that you never forget me. This means a lot for me. I wish you a Merry Christmas to you and to your wonderful family.


  13. Tania says:

    Hi! Dear Magda, you have not written to us since last Christmas. You said that you cried listening the Christmas carols and me , too.
    So, Merry Christmas.

  14. Aram says:



  15. Sanaz says:

    Merry Christmas! I wish you the best of luck and success!
    I agree with Lucy that buying present is one of the most difficult tasks. All the time I try to find something that s/he needs or likes it and somethimes I give myself a hard time, but I finally decide what to buy. And it’s really my concern that buy something which they really like. On the other hand, I become surprised when I see most of the time I don’t recieve the gifts which I really interested or like:(
    One of my friends who introduced you and your website to me, gave me the best present!
    Lucy, Jeff, and Warren, merry christmas and Happy new year!

  16. Bonnie says:

    Hi Lucy

    What is the meaning of ‘ young holiday money’


  17. magda says:

    Dear Tania, I am almost every day here. But, my time is short. I wish you too, a Wonderful New Year.

  18. Peter says:

    Merry Christmas to you all,and to you a good night!
    Merry Christmas to all my fellow students with the Christian fait
    And ,happy holidays to those who was born to some other religious faits.
    I wish you all a good night!

  19. Tania says:

    “Ring out, wild bells
    Ring in the love of truth and right,
    Ring in the common love of good.”

  20. Betty says:

    Hi Lucy,

    Like Bonnie in the 16th post in this blog, I also wondered what was the meaning of ‘young holiday money’ in the sentence:The only exception (something that doesn’t follow the rule) I make is to give my niece (my sister’s daughter) who is still young holiday money each year to buy whatever she wants. She’s happy and so am I.

    Would it be: ‘who is still young, and I give her holiday money each year…………..’?


  21. Betty says:

    Thank you, Lucy, for solving our puzzle for us.

  22. Peter says:

    Holy cow,
    I can’t believe it
    10 years almost past.
    It was like yesterday that we were at the turn of millennium,and there was this rumor going around that computers would fail
    And the world would face a big crisis of having all the system collapse golbaly.
    10 years flew by

  23. Peter says:

    Hi Sanaz,
    U didn’t response to my inquiry about me knowing you.
    It is you
    I guess so
    Because you didn’t answer
    It is nice to see a familiar face here on the blog
    Merry Christmas

  24. Peter says:

    Lucy ,
    Seems like I m more adamant that u.
    From what you say on the post, You end up giving out gifts anyway. And, it is not the end of it for u;even over the course of year, you give gifts.
    But,I have boycotted the whole thing!
    I mean,the whole gift-giving ritual.
    If you wanna do something wrong, do it right sis
    I have no exception , neither my folks nor my friends don’t get any from me.
    The thing is they have grown accustomed to it
    The only thing that I m labeled to is that I m an eccentric guy.
    Well,I m different; I really am
    Some idiosyncrasy doesn’t harm anybody, does it?
    I m telling you ,no good comes from all the gift-giving protocol.
    I don’t do it in principle

  25. Farah says:

    Hi! Lucy,
    Merry Christmas,
    I think your problem is the same of the most people’s problems like me. But now I don’t buy any gift, just for especial cases. I buy a beautiful card related to the day (like mother’s day) and put the card with money in an envelop with a colored ribbon around it, and then I give it to people as a gift. It’s put me at my ease.
    To answer your question, I’ve received a lot of strange gifts especially the ones that weren’t practical/ useful. If I received money as a gift, I would buy the things I’d like or I save it for future needs. Actually I prefer money.
    Thanks’ for your text and good question,
    Best wishes,
    Farah (from Iran)

  26. Tania says:

    “Everyboy’s laughing
    The world is celebrating
    And everyone’s so happy
    Except for me tonight
    Because I miss you
    Most at Christmas time.”

  27. Barbara says:

    Hi Lucy,

    Thank you your episode.

    I am a christian but I don’t celebrate christmas.

    According Bible Acts 20:35 [ There is more happiness in giving than there is in receving.]

    I like to give my family or friends gift any time when I find something good for them.

  28. Aécio Flávio Perim says:

    Why giving gifts? Why people like to get gifts? What is the best gift for a certain person? Simple gifts are successful as much as expensive ones? Do you get angry if your friend forgets giving you a gift on Christmas day or on birthday? When the tradition of giving gifts started? Where was it born? Is a gift a proof of friendship? Do you feel sorry if you forget giving gift? Why not giving gift everyday? Is a flower an important gift? What about a gun for a gift? And a bullet? Think of all these questions and try to answer all of them without regrets. There is any question about gifts not mentioned here?
    Aecio from beautiful green and yellow Brazil

  29. abdullah says:

    i like your idea about not getting gifts in this season , you’re right about it’s been good for business owners more than anyone else .
    even thou i’m muslim , so no christmas for us , we have other holidays , but i agree with the idea that the gift shouldn’t be related to deadline , but when it be reasonable to be given .
    thank you

  30. Redouane says:

    Once a friend of mine was celebrating his birthday,one of the guests offered him a great box in which there is another small one,when my friend tried to open the box he ,to his surprise,found a piece of carrots,everyone was astonshed at the begining,then no one could help laughing.

  31. Betty says:

    I used to ‘trade’ gift with some friends last time when I was in England. I understand how stressful it is if you have to find some gift for the sake of ‘trading’, and having the deadline looming – must get it done by Christmas Eve!

    I only did it because my friends gave me some presents and I felt obliged to give some presents in return, I didn’t like to take and not give. It is part of the Christmas spirits any way. It was not my tradition but I had to respect my friends’ tradition. We only ‘traded’ the gifts if we happened to meet up around Christmas time, otherwise we did not have to bother. It was not too bad because we only ‘trade’ something like little toys for the children, and food and drink for the adults, nothing too expensive and nothing wasted.

    Now my children are not little kids and we don’t meet up with these friends during Christmas anymore, the gift trading experiences just become a memory, and it was a sweet memory.

    The people I give gifts now are people who really deserve the gifts, like my children’s teachers (only if my children ask me to prepare the gifts, I don’t initiate the idea), and those friends who helped me throughout the year, etc. I only give the gift and not receive any gift from them. It is a way for me to say ‘Thank You’, so I am really happy that I have Christmas as a time that I am able to express my thanks to them.

    The custom of Gift giving at Christmas is similar to Red Pocket giving at Chinese New Year for the Chinese.

    Red Pockets (some very pretty red small paper envelops) containing cash inside are given to children or anyone you want to give at the beginning of the Chinese New Year.

    We mainly give it to children of our very close family, and our parents. It is a very stressful time for people who can’t afford or hate this tradition. Some people go away for holiday to avoid this tradition, but some people look forward to this special chance to give the red pockets.

    We live in apartments and there are many people working as security guards, cleaners etc for the building we live in. Chinese New Year is the only time we are allow to give the Red Pockets without feeling embarrassed about it. It is only about one to three US dollars to each of them, but if every apartment give the red pockets, in where I live there are over two hundred apartments, it can give these low wage people some kind of extra help during this needy period, so we are very happy to be able to give them something, also to show our appreciation for their service.

    We also give the red pockets to some waiters and waitress etc if we go to restaurants during this special period, especially if you are a regular customer there. Some people prepare some red pockets especially for the chefs who really had been looking after you for the whole year, what else do you want to give them to say thanks?

    Shortly before Chinese New Year, most big business organisations eg. banks, restaurants, etc. etc. give their customers some packs of Red Pockets (empty ones of course, but all printed their company name so it serves as a means to advertise their business), you can also buy some Red Pockets specially made for you (with your own name and message etc. printed on them). Banks prepare some crispy brand new bank notes for their customers to exchange with their old money, and then people put these new notes in the red pockets ready to give away.

    Talking about Chinese New Year, it is not too far away now, and I must get ready soon.

  32. Karl, Austria says:

    Hy Lucy,
    I very much sympathize with your attitude. Unlike you, however, I haven’t got the guts to tell may familiy about it until now.

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