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A change of plans needed this holiday season
Berny Unruh

The holidays are always about families and gathering together. This year many families may have to make adjustments in the plan. If it is not possible for the family to have a large family gathering, is it possible to discuss some alternate plans?  

I do not think it is too late to start the conversation with family members about how the December holidays will look this year. It really only takes one person to get the conversation started. Maybe several members of the family are ready for a change. 

For many years our large family gathering had a huge pile of gifts under the tree. I come from a family of nine siblings and after each of us married and had a few children of our own, the holiday gathering could easily number close to 75. As the numbers grew, things obviously had to change. Over the years we have switched from everyone drawing names to only getting a gift for the younger children. We still enjoy each other’s company and a meal together. However, 2020 may be a different look as we are talking about a drive-by at my mom’s house!

I know gift-giving is a tradition dating back to the three kings, but maybe this is the year to consider some changes. Would your family like to find new ways to give gifts? The promise of an “experience” rather than a physical wrapped gift might be an option. For an older crowd, maybe a collection or a pool of money could be donated to a favorite charity.

It will definitely take some effort to make a plan and to change a strong tradition. Holidays are very important and each family wants a memory to hold on to. Look for new ways to create memories for this year and maybe look for a way to save some money too.

If there is a decision to continue the gift-giving tradition, agree on spending limits ahead of time Also include expenses such additional food that is purchased, wrapping paper and decorations. Sit down with your spouse or significant others and set a budget. Devise a record-keeping system for your purchases so the spending does not get out of hand. If you don’t keep track of your expenses, you will be surprised when you receive the bills in January.

Berny Unruh is the Family and Community Wellness Agent for the Cottonwood Extension District.  She can be reached at 785-628-9430 or at