real life

My family has a "no presents" at Christmas rule. And they mean it.

I have a huge warm loving family and I’m not getting them presents this Christmas.

These people are part of my identity, they love me at my worst and we have been on good terms for most of our lives, aside from the odd massive spat.

They mean so much to me and without them I wouldn’t make sense, but I am so glad I don’t have to say that in gift form this Christmas.  I would never have enough.

My family has a “no presents” at Christmas rule – and they mean it.

You can’t cheat.  There is no sneaking in a present for Mum, just because you want to be the favourite.

My generous mother, Jenny – who has raised seven children – has decided to donate to a charity on behalf of the family and the rest of us are off the hook.

My family during their present-free Christmas of 2015. Image supplied.

This means for all of us there are no Christmas shopping queues, internet orders, or socks for Uncle Sam.

There also won't be anything at all for me under the tree and I'm so glad. All the pressure is off.

Christmas gift buying gives me the cold sweats. I've never been a good present giver.

For some reason by November I seem to be living on a week to week pay check. I'm suddenly broke and wish I shopped in the sales last year.

I panic and get the impersonal unimaginative present that completely backfires because my cousin is allergic to chocolate.

Listen: Passive aggressive Christmas presents. Post continues after podcast.

Good gift givers are artists, they have a natural know-how to make you feel like you are truly understood - even within a budget.

My best friend once sent me a jar of Australian sunshine when I was homesick during a cold December in London. I would never have thought of it.

Looking for gifts that will sum-up how much I care - say under $50 - are a tricky find.

Thankfully my grandmother  - another mother of seven - started our family's no gifts trend a few years ago, with a "family donation" and a picture of a goat in a heartfelt message in a Christmas card.

I adore my sister but she is getting nothing.

"Do you know what the best thing about Christmas is at Mum's place?" I asked my 27-year-old sister.

"No presents!" she says.

We're not horrible people, but we all love that we don't have to buy each other presents.

My siblings are grown up and we're so lucky  we don't need for anything.

We will gather for our hot dry Canberran Christmas with plenty of prawns and cheers to listen to the same jokes and tell the same stories - with cheesy music in the background.

That's what warms my heart and makes me feel grateful at Christmas. That precious gift of time we have for each other. All of those times.

  • My mother donates to The Lajamanu Arts Centre on behalf of the family, one of the most remote indigenous communities in Australia.
  • This year my grandmother is donating to the Good Sams.