26 Dec

Luxurious Christmas

Posted by Jenna, Under Holiday

I am typing this from my new iPad. The photo at the top of this post was taken with my dSLR, uploaded directly to my iPad, edited (poorly :) ) and inserted into the post. Frankly it all feels a little bit unbelievable. My sister and I had suspected a possibility of an iPhone 4 Christmas, but my parents made it clear that wasn’t going to happen. I was fine with that, my sister was a little bummed though because she really needs a new phone. I put an immersion blender at the top of my list and started thinking about how much easier it was going to be to make butternut squash soup with my new kitchen gadget.

My parents had different plans though. My dad opened an iPad, a surprise from my mom. My sister and I opened our boxes, and then my mom opened one from my dad. Yes, 4 people, 4 devices. Insane.

I admit, I am left feeling confused. I don’t feel guilty that I have the gift, after all my parents work hard to earn what they have and they are free to spend their money how they please (mom and dad I love that you are spending things this way :) ), but this is the first time I’ve felt weird talking publicly about something I own. The act of admitting that I have it feels like bragging to me.

I think this comes from the luxury status of the gift. I have a LOT of nice things. A dSLR and many expensive accessories but I’m working hard to pay for all of those. We live in a nice apartment but it isn’t a luxury apartment according to most American standards, just a really nice place for two students to live. Our car certainly isn’t luxurious, it’s 15 years old and we plan to drive it into the ground, but I appreciate that it’s reliable and we can afford to pay to park it under our apartment building. My life is a mix of items used and new, cheap and fancy, and I don’t have any problem talking frankly about what I have, but this iPad feels different.

Maybe it’s the newness of it. Or it could be that I’ve really longed for one since it was announced and I’m still in disbelief that I own one. More likely though, it’s a sense of guilt that I have so much when others have so little. TH and I frequently bemoan the reality that the more educated and aware you become, the harder life becomes. How much do I have to give to others and how much can I keep for myself if I want to be a “good person”?

I don’t know the answer to this, and I really don’t think there is one right answer. The best I can do is to look back at what I’ve done in the past and figure how to change for the better in the future. I can talk about the nice things I have as long as I remember how lucky I am to have them. And, I think, I can enjoy the gift from my parents. They gave of their worldly possessions to make me happy (it worked!) and one way to show gratitude for that sacrifice is to let myself completely enjoy what I’ve been given.

Thank you mom and dad. I think you can tell from the way it’s never out of my sight that I SO love this gift.

A few questions today:

When you receive something that feels luxurious, do you feel guilty? How do you deal with that emotion?

How would you prefer that the bloggers you read talk about this sort of thing? Does it annoy you? Feel like they are bragging?

And of course, if you have an iPad yourself what are your favorite apps? :)

94 Comments


  1. Well, if it is any consolation, the picture doesn’t work. ;)

    I think your post shows that you really are contemplative over it, and that’s the best attitude. You didn’t expect it or demand it.

    Enjoy it. Enjoy what you have. Life can change so quickly.

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  2. I know exactly what you mean! My mom gifted me a trip to New York for Christmas (I’ve never been but my whole family has). I’m really excited, but it’s also something I don’t want to rub in people’s faces. I figure once I go I can get all excited about it but until then I’ll keep my mouth shut.

    On the other hand my husband and I bought each other the iPad for Christmas. That was the only thing we got, and only after my husband went to a training where he learned how he could use it for his classroom and I could use it for my business. I’m willing it show that one off :)

    As far as apps, I like waiting for different board game apps to go on sale for 99 cents. EA games had a bunch last week so now I have Scabble, Boggle, etc.

    Enjoy it!!

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  3. Congratulations on receiving an iPad!!! And how cool is that each of the four of you got your own!!

    This year, I got an iPhone 4. My husband and I gave each other the same gift plus a couple of some other smaller gifts. The most expensive gift I have ever received was a new iMac from my husband. He gives me VERY nice presents, and some of them are expensive and some are not, but I value each present greatly because they are all meaningful AND it makes him happy to see how much I enjoy them. The funny thing is that he now wants to give me an iPad because ever since I got the iMac I spend more time in a different room (I used to sit next to him every night working on my old and slow MacBook). I do feel a little guilty, but probably because the gifts usually cover some necessity, I feel more grateful than guilty.

    Also, I don’t personally have access to the same resources as my husband (not to say he is super wealthy, we are just in different earning categories), and I always gift him things that are either offbeat or overlooked in the everyday life. One of him all-time favorites is a ticket book to keep all the tickets to shows/concerts and other memorable events organized. We attend quite a lot of concerts, so he LOVES the fact that he has a tool to organize the memories.

    And I absolutely don’t mind the bloggers I read to talk about getting things. I am happy for them, and I love reading their honest opinions of things, so no reason to feel guilty here!

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    I’m in much the same situation with my partner. This year he got me DNA mapping from “23 and Me” which can be a few hundred dollars (we’re nerds, haha) while I got him quirky gifts like a yoga block- he loves yoga, but is so inflexible and needs the support- and heart pancake molds- he loves to make pancakes on the weekend- and little fun accessories for camping and a few other things. Our gifts were not monetarily “equal”, but our gifts were equally thoughtful. In the past he too has given me the most expensive gift I’ve ever received and it has been difficult for me to be gracious because of guilt, but as both you and Jenna said the gift giver is getting joy out of giving, and they can choose to spend as they see fit, so I try to be gracious and not let my guilt cloud their joy in giving.

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    phruphru Reply:

    Adele, I am curious about your statement about your husband having access to different resources than you. As a married couple, do you not share your money?

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    april Reply:

    my husband and I share our money, but I try to only spend money I earn on his presents… so it’s me giving them to him, not us. I bet that’s what she means.

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    Adele Reply:

    April is absolutely correct :-) When it comes to presents, I make it a point to only buy them with the money that I earned myself.

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  4. I think talking favorably about one’s life is far from bragging. In general though, I’m uncomfortable with what society defines as “bragging” and how people are ashamed to talk about good things as a result. Sometimes it seems that simply being happy with your life, and excited about it, and wanting to talk about it, is called “bragging”, which I think is unfair. Honestly anyone who interprets “yay, I got an iPad, so happy!!” or “yay, I’m going to New York, so happy!” as bragging is probably dealing with their own issues and projecting their insecurities or jealousies onto another person.

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    lauralove. Reply:

    I think you make a fantastic point. It’s really all about your heart behind what you say. Bragging has some kind of mal-intent behind it – different from being truly happy and sharing your joy. I think our society gets stuck in a focus on the negative and complain mode all the time, and part of that might come from society’s definition of “bragging” and how it’s bad.

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  5. I know exactly what you’re talking about. This Christmas I got several wonderful gifts but my parents gave me and my husband something that we never expected and I’m so grateful for it and excited about it but I’m not sure I should blog about it because I don’t want it to look like I’m bragging about it….

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  6. I don’t mind reading about things that people get for christmas, fancy or not. I’m just so happy for them to get what they like!

    My husband and I cannot afford giving each other fancy things or stuff we like this year (ipad or iphone, although we’d love to). So we just gave each other affordable things that we know we love, and spent christmas eve with family and friends and had a great time.
    My dad gifted me a Sony NEX5 camera this year. I felt a little guilty cause times are so hard, but on the other hand, I felt so loved by him.

    My favorite app is Cooking quest, you have to find hidden objects and cook meals.

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  7. I got an iPad for my birthday this year (which is just a few weeks before Christmas), and I felt very similar, especially because I’m a poor grad student. Some of my professors have iPads, but none of my classmates, and I really wanted to be able to use it for school (I do and it’s fantastic), but I got so many snarky comments about it. I’m sure my friends were jealous and felt like I didn’t do anything do deserve an iPad or something, but it made me feel really insecure. I mean, I feel like you do. I feel so grateful to have such generous parents, and I’ve already gotten a ton of use from my iPad for school, but it DOES feel like a major luxury item. No WAY could I have afforded an iPad on my own. It was a gift for which I am extremely grateful. Why should I feel guilty for it? Yet we do. It’s hard. I guess I’m just saying I totally know what you mean.

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    R Reply:

    Grad school jealousy is the worst. I’m in grad school too, and I’m lucky to have parents with both the means and the willingness to give me financial support to make my life more than comfortable. Their attitude is that rather than inheriting it when they die, I can living comfortably and they can be around to watch. I already have free tuition and a stipend so their contribution ratchets up my standard of living significantly – they bought me a nice apartment but also help in other ways. As a result, I can afford to do things I love like travel a lot. (I also have two part-time jobs, which is actually why my parents are willing to help – that I do work hard.) My friends in my program know my situation but at least one person seems to have a personal vendetta because she is jealous of me – about everything – and completely insecure about herself. She frequently, loudly complains about how, in her words, my wallet seems bigger than everyone else’s or my bank account seems to stretch as much as I want. If she were my friend, I’d happily clue her in – but I figure I don’t owe her anything.

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    Jenna Reply:

    Dolling out money ivermectin time while you are alive makes so much more sense than waiting until you die. The tax man will take everything he can possibly get when you die!

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    Jenna Reply:

    “money during the time while you are alive”

    Still learning how to type on this thing :)

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    R Reply:

    I completely agree – I’d do the same with my children (as long as they’re hardworking and productive members of society… not to enable a kid to be a lazy trustafarian type!)

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    Hannah Reply:

    I have a good “friend” who is like this on aspects of marriage and finances, as well…drives me crazy. And even though she is a friend, I feel the same way…why should I owe you an explanation if you’re assuming so much? I say, live your life with gratitude and purpose and everyone else can just keep gabbing!

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  8. Hey! I just wanted to drop by and say hello. I dont know
    how but I randomly stumbled across your blog from other blogs. I
    just wanted to say that I love the layout of your blog and oh btw,
    green is my favorite color! I also thought the name of your blog is
    cute! Anyways, look forward to reading about your adventures. Feel
    free to stop by mine whenever you get a chance.

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  9. Yay for iPads! :D My fiance got me one after we got engaged. It was intended for wedding planning (to show vendors inspiration pictures), but I would say 90% of the time I’m just playing games on it. :X Like you said, your parents worked hard to pay for it and wanted to get it for you, so you should enjoy it! It’s not like you’re living beyond your means and got it yourself just to be cool or something. Sometimes I feel like it’s being too flashy to take out my iPad in public, but I just try not to make a big deal out of it. Ultimately it’s just a fun toy, and people shouldn’t feel badly if they don’t own one.

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  10. I thought I was the only one who likes to take a picture of the pile of gifts before people get to them!

    I’ll admit that it makes me very happy to see all the guests arrive (we usually host Christmas) and pile their presents with the rest – not because of the monetary value, but because there’s so much thought going into these gifts. I’m a big gift-giver. I love getting things for other people more than I love getting things for myself (I’ll also admit it’s not out of selflessness… it’s a pleasure for ME to be able to do it). I got my sister a laptop because she really needs it and although it was a big expense, it made me happier than anything I could have bought for myself.

    So when somebody gets something they really love, like you now, it makes me vicariously happy to hear them talk about it. I don’t think anyone could find fault with that.

    I don’t own an iPod or many “fancy” things (my camera gear excluded), but I do travel abroad frequently and spend quite a bit of money that way. And now that you mentioned this, it does make me a bit uncomfortable to talk about it, especially in front of some family members. It does feel like I’m rubbing it on people’s faces, which is not my intention. I also feel the need to justify it, for example, explaining my finances to people, telling them I budget responsably and I have emergency savings on which I could live for a year, etc. Which is… unnecessary. That’s probably not what they want to know when they ask me. But I often feel guilty for having so much, like I have to justify it. Like I’m somehow not deserving of everything I have. That’s a feeling I struggle with very frequently.

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  11. I’m fortunate–like you Jenna–to have very generous relatives who have gifted me many nice things over the years. I wasn’t bratty about it, but I think I probably took for granted how unusual it was to have parents/grandparents/whomever who would/could afford to give these things that others would consider unreachable luxury. Mr. N has brought me down to earth a bit on that–at least, he’s made me aware that most people (himself included) weren’t quite so fortunate as I. I wouldn’t say I’m embarrassed to own the things I do, but I definitely have a sheepish feeling when people ask what I received/what I have given…because I’m aware that they may not be able to afford to give or receive so much. I think it’s great that you got an iPad!! What a cool gift. :)

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  12. I just love that you talk honestly about so many things. I struggle with the same questions and it’s a relief to hear it from someone else.

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  13. I felt really guilty when my husband got me the ipad for our anniversary this past October. But to make it even worse – I hadn’t gotten him anything yet and was going to take him shopping for some new clothes. Since I knew how much it had cost him to get me the iPad I offered to pay for half of it as a present to him also. Now the ipad is a joint present for our anniversary and I don’t feel as bad.

    For my fave app – I recently discovered flipboard and I love it a lot! I also enjoy moxier collage.

    I hope you are enjoying your new toy!

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    Jenna Reply:

    Clipboard is amazing! I’ve fallen in love with Google Reader again. Just wish it was easier to comment on the blogs I read.

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    Jenna Reply:

    Dang, Flipboard not clipboard.

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  14. It’s a gift. Enjoy it without the guilt.

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  15. I got an iPad too, from my inlaws.

    First I was totally spoiled by my parents, and now the inlaws.

    It does feel like a lot. I would have never bought this for myself, but I’m glad I have it now.

    I plan to try really hard to start christmas traditions with my daughter that are meaningful rather than commercial to help offset the, uh, love that her grandparents show at Christmastime. For example, shell get four gifts from us instead of a billion. She ll get something she wants, somethingn she needs, something to wear, and something to read. Also, we ll do things like spend one night with family, spend one night with friends, spend one night just our little family, and spend one night doing some kind of service work.

    Favorite apps so far–all free– NPR, NYT crossword app, eBay, auction bento.

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  16. My grandmother gave me a Kindle back when they were still pretty new and very expensive (I have the 2nd generation one). The only people I knew who had them had won them. I felt really really guilty and silly for having it. I hadn’t worked for it – my grandmother’s excuse was she gave it to me because I visited and the other grandkids didn’t. But I felt the same way you feel – that somehow, I didn’t deserve something so special and so nice. Also, it felt weirdly wrong to own something so fancy when so much else in my life wasn’t fancy – I drove a 12 year old Subaru that shuddered when I drove it on the beltway, our apartment had mice. It’s a little like…shouldn’t I be the kind of person who wears designer jeans before they own something really nice?
    So yeah, I totally get how you feel. It is disorienting to own something that nice, and also to get something so nice when you expected a $30 immersion blender (and yeah, they are really great for soup, but you can probably find one at a Goodwill).

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  17. That’s amazing of them! I bet you’ll have a lot of fun with it! And it’ll be great for Jenna Cole as well, I know plenty of photographers who use the Ipad when meeting with clients in a cafe, etc.

    I do feel incredibly guilty when I get an extravagant gift! My parents were never big gift givers; they have a modest income and spend accordingly. But my FILs are very generous. To give you an idea of how generous, we got a $500 gift card to Whole Foods for Christmas! I couldn’t believe it. I’m so grateful but sometimes it does feel like… wow, I’m spoiled now!

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  18. I don’t think you need to be worried about what people will think if you get a fancy gift. I think it’s more annoying to have people constantly talking about how “practical” they think they are.

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  19. I think recognizing the privilege we have in our lives is half the battle. I, as an educated black woman, notice a lot of privileges that set me apart from some of my peers and most definitely the people I work with in my Social Work career. But I do not apologize for my privilege, instead I recognize it, realize how blessed I am and how hard I have worked towards some of them (like my two degrees) and find peace in the fact that I have positioned myself to help people work towards their own goals.

    I think we all try to work hard to help people, society, what have you as much as we can and I don’t think treating ourselves or allowing someone to give us a nice gift cancels out all of that work.

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  20. Bragging does not include being grateful, or gracious – so I would definitely not think of you as bragging. My mom got an iPad for Christmas – and while I was a tad bit jealous… that’s a part of life, and it had nothing to do with my mom dancing around shoving it in my face. lol.

    Enjoy your new present! I got an iPod nano with the touch screen… now I just need to unpack my house so I can put music on it. :(

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  21. My dad went to China for business last week and he picked me up a really authentic looking knockoff Chanel purse for Christmas. The Chinese girls from the factory took him to the knockoff market and helped him find a really good purse and negotiate the price. I love the purse. It’s beautiful. But I do feel sad when I think about the Chinese workers who are basically factory slaves over there and have nothing. And then I felt especially sad when I asked my dad if the girls who took him shopping liked any of the purses and he said “that’s a whole different world to them, they don’t even understand it”. They just want chocolate. The factory workers live in tiny dorms and send all their money home to their parents. They don’t get to buy such luxuries even though they spend all day making them in the factories.
    I don’t know, it made me kind of sad thinking about the conditions over there. But I’ll still have to use my purse! I told my dad to make sure he brings them some sort of thank you gift next time he goes – to thank them for their help with shopping. They all want American chocolates and food!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Also, what kind of car do you have? I also have a 15 year old car – a ’95 Toyota Avalon with almost 300,000 miles on it!

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    Jenna Reply:

    Ours is a Toyota Camry. My only complaint is that it doesn’t have the automatic door unlocking thing which sometimes makes juggling the baby and the shopping bags a bit difficult at times :). Otherwise I really like it!

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    Felicity Reply:

    We just traded in my 13 year old Saab with 200,000 miles on it. I would have kept it for another 13 years if it didn’t require more than a monthly car payment on a new car to keep it out of the shop! Three cheers for old cars!

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    Felicity Reply:

    Oops, meant to say we traded it for a Toyota that I hope will last for 300,000+ miles too :)

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  22. I absolutely don’t mind you talking about this! I was wondering what you got and it’s fun to hear about it. I really like some my gifts this year, but I’m don’t really get excited about gifts. In fact, I think yours was my very favorite and got me the most excited :). Personally, I would feel really guilty about getting a gift like an ipad from my parents, but only because they can’t afford it. Don’t feel bad about it! Be excited and happy! One question, do you have to pay the $30 a month for the 3G or whatever or can you use it with your wifi? This is something I’ve been wondering about (my sister has an ipad and DOESN’T have a computer or wireless internet, so they have to pay for the 3G).

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    Jenna Reply:

    My mom got the kind where you dont pay for the 3G, which is fine because I can use my phone when I am out and about!

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  23. Jenna, I’m sure I’ll get flamed for this, but you asked
    “How would you prefer that the bloggers you read talk about this
    sort of thing?”…just stop apologizing for all that you have/have
    been given. Let’s be honest – you and your husband live in an
    expensive city, you spend a ridiculous amount on groceries, you
    both have lots of expensive technology, you personally seem to get
    something every time it comes out (an iPhone, now the iPad) – you
    have legit reasons for all these things (his work pays for him to
    go to school there, you feel strongly about local food, you need it
    for work and he needs it for work/school). So that’s fine. But stop
    with this “I feel bad” because, honestly it comes off as phony.
    Take T1 and volunteer somewhere, or if you’re already doing that,
    tell us about it. I don’t care how expensive your things are, I
    don’t even really care if you volunteer, but it is annoying when
    you post these guilty-feeling stories but don’t seem inclined to do
    anything about it any other time.

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    Anna Reply:

    I get the same impression from this post as you do, Emily.

    Jenna, I enjoy your more researched and convicted posts more (homebirth, photography, food, etc.)

    Enjoy your gift! What a blessing!

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    Cristin Reply:

    Just as a counter – thought I’d throw out that this post seems like a brainstorming session and felt sincerely inquisitive to me. Not insincere at all.

    It is much more in the “wedding bee” style, with posed questions at the end, but I don’t dislike this set up, as you do continue to post , as Anna said, “convicted” musings as well.

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  24. Yes and no. My family is pretty comfortable so I don’t feel
    like they are buying things they can’t afford, but I do feel guilty
    sometimes when I don’t take the time to appreciate all that we have
    and all the places we have been able to go.

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  25. You should not feel guilty for receiving a nice gift. I got numerous gifts this year that I would not buy for myself (made in China, bought at Walmart, etc) but it didn’t affect my joy in receiving them. When it’s not you who is doing the shopping, it’s just not your responsibility.

    You’re a blogger, so of course we want to hear about the iPad! It’s only natural.

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  26. I received an iPad as a work gift this year, but traded it for an iPhone because I desperately needed a new phone (4 years old and unable to make calls anymore!) and I couldn’t see the practicality in having an iPad and paying for the phone out of pocket. All that being said, I’m not sure what apps to use. I do adore “my net diary”, a diet and exercise program for the iPhone; I assume it’s just as great for the iPad.

    In re: expensive gifts I too am in total shock over what I received from my husband this year. He bought me a sewing machine that costs $3,000 new. It’s a year old and he bought it gently used, but still, the price far exceeded the super-high-for-us $500 limit we put on gifts this year. I set that limit because we needed new power tools for home projects and I bought them all for his gifts. I didn’t expect more than a new fleece jacket from him. I’m not sure how I’ll mention it on our blog. I’m just so grateful for it and for him, it bring tears to my eyes. My mom said he worked with her to make it a surprise and went to great lengths to make me happy after the difficult year we’ve had dealing with several heartbreaking miscarriages. I feel so guilty for how sad and downright mean and unable to deal with my emotions I’ve been this fall.

    Like your iPad, this gift is so much more than an expensive gift, it’s a reminder that we’re a team and and a family and that I have an amazing husband who will do anything to make me happy.

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  27. Hmm..there are so many layers to this topic!
    I think it’s ok to share that you got this present, and any feelings of guilt/bragging etc that you may or may not feel.

    This Christmas was the first Christmas that there was a baby in our family (my nephew, he is 9 months old) and his pile of presents was bigger than anyone elses. His parents got him two presents (and a few smaller items for his stocking..books and a teether or something)…but he really got a lot from the relatives.

    Honestly, between what the baby got, and what all of us adults got, I sort of felt guilty. None of us needed anything, and we could have pooled the money spent on all of the presents and given it to charity, or a family that truly needs things like Winter Coats.
    I know that it’s ok to buy each other things, and that everyone in my family works hard for their money, and that none of the gifts were purchased using money that the gift giver didn’t have, but still…
    It’s a paradox!

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  28. I would feel really guilty receiving this present from my family because my family does not have that kind of money to spend. But that’s *my* family, not yours. It sounds like your parents were absolutely delighted to surprise you all this year. They were probably super excited to bestow such generous gifts on you and your sister (and each other — which is really cute). Enjoy the ipad and quit feeling guilty. Is TH a little jealous, though? My husband would be! :)

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  29. I know what you mean, but for me I think the guilt comes into play most when people I know and love can’t afford things I wish they could have to make their lives easier… I want to just snap my fingers and make everyone have this wonderful, comfortable life. That’s just not reality. Christmas always makes me feel conflicted- it’s about the greatest gift of all, the Savior of the world coming to earth as a baby, but it’s so easy to play the comparison game with what everyone else got.

    My parents are similar to yours in that they work incredibly hard, always have, and are frugal in the everyday things in order to have flexibility in the big things. I know from seeing the look on my parents’ face when I’m enjoying something they’ve done or given to me, that it brings them so much joy. Enjoy your iPad, and you’ll be giving back so much joy to your parents as well.

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  30. Yay, you’re going to love the iPad, we’ve had one a few months now and its constantly in use at our house. We’re definitely getting a 2nd one when they come out with the 2nd gen (hopefully with a forward-facing camera).

    Don’t feel guilty about owning nice things or being blessed with wonderful gifts. Other people make their splurges elsewhere, they make sacrifices in some areas to afford the things they care about. My husband and I love technology, so we spend extra money for gadgets, but we try to be super thrifty when it comes to clothes/food/eating out, etc so that we have that extra money to spend on the things we want and that add value to our lives.

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  31. Oh yeah, forgot the apps:

    Netflix
    Pandora
    Feedler (RSS reader, its free and is the cleanest one I’ve found so far)
    Tweetdeck
    Wikipanion
    Desktop Connect (we use this to connect to our PC desktop)

    We’ve also switched several of our magazine subscriptions to the iPad, and there are some free ones out there like NYT Editor’s Choice that are pretty cool.

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  32. I too struggle with feeling guilty for gifts I recieve. My husbands parents are very generous, which makes me feel a bit bratty at times. They just love us dearly and want us to enjoy our lives as much as possible. And, if a trip to Texas and brand new cross country skis make us happy, then that’s what we get. I do feel strange talking about it in front of my parents, who can’t afford the same luxuries.

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  33. I don’t mind it, it makes me jealous, but such is life right? My hubby and I don’t make a whole lot of money, but we can afford more because we don’t have kids yet. So when we want something big, we just pay cash for it. A lot of people in my life make snide remarks like “oh it must be nice” and then I feel like crap, and I hate it. My hubby and I work hard for what we have, as I’m sure you guys do…and I think it’s ok to show it off, as long as you’re not a jerk about it! and you are certainly not a jerk!

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    Many of my acquaintances and friends are married with two, mostly three, children. A lot of the time when my partner and I (who also do not have kids yet) travel or do something, people I know with kids will say things like “you’re lucky you don’t have kids so you can do that!” or they’ll also say the “oh it must be nice” thing, or various comments about being footloose and fancy free. And I think, no, actually I’m not lucky, I made a conscious choice to delay having kids, and most of my friends made conscious choices *to* have kids- they were married first, planned it out, etc. To me, it’s kind of weird because it sounds like they resent their kids, or resent me for not having kids…it’s all very uncomfortable and kind of strange for me.

    Reply

    Virginia Reply:

    I’m in the exact same situation. I get this sort of remarks often from friends who have started a family. “Oh it must be nice to be able to just take off to Europe without a care in the world, I would have to pay for my whole family and who would work to pay the bills, hmph”. Honestly it doesn’t sound so bad written down, but it’s the tone that makes it awful.

    I don’t really understand the motivation behind it – these are people who are living the life they planned for themselves, with the priorities they chose. We’re not talking about people who were given less advantages than I was. We’re both living the life we want, so why the snide remarks about how “it must be nice” to be me?

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    Virginia,this, exactly- “I don’t really understand the motivation behind it – these are people who are living the life they planned for themselves, with the priorities they chose.” I agree with you that I really don’t like when they start talking about the lack of responsibilities either- it irks me when people think that people without kids don’t have *real* responsibilities. Even when I was working full time, taking 4 grad classes a semester, and volunteering almost 20 hours a week with a political campaign, when I would go out on a date or to a party those kinds of friends would say the kinds of things about not having a care in the world or being frivolous or what have you. So strange.

    Reply

    Virginia Reply:

    I can relate so much.

    Add to that the fact that I’m a freelancer, and therefore it’s not like I have a “real” job *eye roll*, even though I work longer hours than anybody I know.

    Basically I feel that people think my money is a) undeserved because “I’m home all day” and b) misspent because I don’t have children and a mortgage.

    It’s not surprising that so many people here admitted to feeling guilty for what they have.

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    So true.

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  34. Maybe it’s because my family doesn’t really exchange large gifts, but I don’t get where the guilt comes from. You didn’t spend your money on it, it was a gift for you. I don’t see why you should feel guilty that someone else bought you something that they thought you would enjoy. If it’s the amount of money that bothers you, then perhaps ask them not to spend so much in the future on you. But I think it’s more the perception of others that bothers you and I wonder why, since you often have a large crowd disagree with you on other posts about many more important things than Christmas gifts.

    I say just let it go. Enjoy your gift. Enjoy the lifestyle you and TH have worked hard for. Enjoy the lifestyle your parents worked hard to provide for you. Help others where you can. :)

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  35. Well, I don’t quite see an iPad as a “luxury” item, but I see what you mean. I’m at work today and I don’t know what to say when others ask “what did Santa bring you?” I just feel spoiled sometimes in general because of the clothes I wear, the car I drive, the house I live in, etc. But it’s worse this time of year when I’m asked what I got for Christmas and can’t figure out what to say other than um, seven pieces of Le Crueset cookware and a snowblower and the remainder of my student loans paid off.

    My life was not always like this (my parents were very working-class when I was little) and it’s still surreal to me. I think part of me feels like I don’t deserve the nice life that I have. I don’t work harder than any of my co-workers who are just trying to make ends meet and yet my life is so very different because of my husband and my parents and my in-laws.

    Like you, I feel like all I can do is be so very grateful for all that I have and give as generously as I’m given. In the last few years, we’ve greatly increased our donations to organizations in our area that help those who are less fortunate which really helps assuage some of the guilt.

    Reply

    R Reply:

    Do adults really do this? I mean, ask what Santa brought you at work? I’m asking completely seriously – I don’t think I’ve ever asked anyone what he/she got for Christmas. Not even friends. And no one has really asked. My sister or mom will ask what my boyfriend and I got each other but that’s about it. I think the only circumstances under which it comes up is if someone asks me where something came from (e.g. a bag) and I say I got it for Christmas from whomever.

    I would be super hung up if people asked because my parents spend a lot at Christmas and my sister spends a lot at Christmas, so I’d be embarrassed to admit to some of my presents.

    Reply

    Ashley Reply:

    I guess it never crossed my mind that that would be an unusual thing to ask other people. When I arrived at my Aunt’s on Christmas day we all asked each other what gifts we received. Same thing with my girlfriends. I’m still the “new girl” at work (started in June) so it’s not even like I’m really really close with the girls who asked me. I also had a few people ask me before Christmas what I intended to get my husband and what I thought he would get me. I’d have similar conversations with the ladies at my old job, too. I guess it’s maybe more unusual than I thought?

    Reply

    Turtle Reply:

    I have to agree that I was surprised someone asked you this question. My family celebrates Christmas– we’re catholic– but we don’t actually do any gifts for adults. The kids (nieces and nephews) get gifts from santa and aunts and uncles, but we don’t buy things for each other any more. In fact, I only bought 2 Christmas gifts this year– both for people in my husband’s family, so I guess I’d be made a little uncomfortable by this questions also.

    Reply

    R Reply:

    Another possible explanation is that I’ve only ever been a student, a teacher, and then a student again, so by the time I see people after Christmas, it’s mid-January!

    Reply

    Virginia Reply:

    I do this, and so do most people I know.

    But it’s not about the gifts. For example, I admit that the question “What did your family get you for Christmas?”, as well as the answers to that, would sound weird and innapropriate to me. But somehow “What did Santa bring you?” sounds perfectly fine.

    Maybe it’s because it brings us back to childhood, and back then you were free to share your excitement about your gifts without being made to feel guilty.

    Reply

    phruphru Reply:

    I don’t think anyone’s asked me as an adult what Santa brought me exactly but two of my coworkers this week asked, “Was Santa good to you?” This is just a yes or no question and I’m OK with saying “yes” back.

    Reply

    Anna Reply:

    R,

    I’m surprised people ask this as well! I was always raised that talking about material things is vulgar, so I never volunteer the information, and certainly never ask someone else. Not because it’s embarrassing, but it’s no one’s business.

    To catch up after the holidays, I’ll ask how the holiday was, and quite frankly, if the first thing someone shares is what they got, it does not give me a positive impression. Christmas, especially, is about so much more than the stuff.

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  36. I struggle with guilt a lot too. I’ve been the recipient of some wonderful gifts over the years – both holiday/birthday stuff, and huge things like my grandparents paying for college so I wouldn’t have to go into debt (yes, I know, huge). I don’t feel like I deserve any of that – but at the same time, I know how happy it makes me to give things to other people, so I know it makes them happy to give things to me. They gave me those gifts to help me (or just to see me smile!) not to make me feel guilty.

    To deal with the guilt, I try to think of ways to pay my good fortune forward – with charity donations, of course, but also by planning for my future so that I can bless others as well. And, of course, using the gifts I’ve been given well – my grandparents may have paid for school, but that wasn’t an excuse for me to be lazy, for example. I still had to go to class!

    So I say, use it and enjoy it! (I’m not really a tech person, so no app recommendations from me)

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  37. I feel a little guilty this Christmas too…my parents got me everything on my list and my MIL absolutely spoiled me (just one of my gifts was a $300 necklace)

    I’ve figured the best thing I can do to show my appreciation is just tell them thank you and let them know how much I love the gifts they gave me? It’s not like anyone forced them to, and heaven knows when we are better off financially I will be the same way.

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  38. I understand where you’re coming from — I sometimes wish I had things like an iPod, iPad, Kindle or a smart phone, or heck, a computer that’s not 10 years old… but at the end of the day I realize that my true technological *needs* (like you and TH have discussed) are very limited. Therefore, getting anything like that would probably cause me some amount of confusion: happyhappyhappy that I finally have a shiny new toy, guilty because is this something that is going to enrich the life of my family and I or feed a techno-addiction? And also, yes, the price would disturb me a little too — grad school living has led me to think in “pence rather than pounds”.

    But at the end of the day, no matter what it was or how much it cost, it was a gift from people who love you. My family and I had a very modest gift exchange this year, but we managed through used, sale, and homemade items to each open quite a little pile of presents and we each felt the love and thoughtfulness of the respective gift-givers. I think that should be the same no matter what the price point of the gift is.

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  39. I got an iPad from my husband for Christmas. I don’t feel guilty because I know we can afford it. I just feel incredibly blessed and thankful.

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  40. First of all, congrats on such a lovely Christmas gift!

    Secondly, my husband and I received an amazing gift this year that at the time I felt totally not worthy to be receiving. It’s the latest entry on my blog, actually, but the short of it is that I wrote to a radio station that was granting Christmas wishes, and I wished for something small for my husband… they went above and beyond and gave us 10 times what I was asking for–for both of us! When it happened, I was in disbelief. I thought that surely we didn’t deserve for such a nice thing to happen… and that if they hadn’t gone to such lengths to grant my wish, how many others could have they helped? But then I stepped back from that kind of thinking & realized that I’m a good person & do what I can to help others, and that it’s OK if good things happen to me too, as long as I truly appreciate it & make it worthwhile! Sometimes it’s hard to accept such nice gifts, for sure!

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  41. I understand where Jenna’s concern about public perception of her new iPad is coming from & think it’s totally reasonable to ask about this topic in this (her!) forum.

    I find I am most self-conscious about areas of my life where 1) I judge others on this area or 2) areas where I’ve been criticized before by someone important to me. When I find myself embarressed or focusing on some aspect of my life, I try to think about whether I’m overly harsh on someone else on the same topic. Similarly, when I find myself being judgmental, I ask whether I’m envious or whether it would be fair to judge me for the same. My brother just bought a house in Dallas (cheap, compared to Manhattan!). I became irrationally critical of how dumb this idea was, attacking it from all angles (he’s too young, not enough saved, it’s nit the right place, he doesn’t know how to fix anything, it wasn’t safe…). But I finally realized I was judging because I want a house.

    Anyway, wondering if maybe anyone who’s bring unkind specifically about you owning such a nice device is jealous or maybe if you’ve found yourself exploring feelings about how other people in your life spend money?

    Sorry for the brevity – on an iPhone myself & trying to respond in a hurry!

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    I loved everything about this comment. I really appreciate thoughtful, honest introspection. This reminds me exactly of what I would do- sort through my feelings, ask myself *why* I’m feeling them, etc. I think you made a lot of really excellent points of being aware of why we do the things we do. So many people view emotions as things that are out of our control, that just “happen” to us without any choice on our part. I think we have a lot of choice in the matter as long as we can get to the bottom of why we’re feeling the way we are.

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  42. I definitely know what you’re talking about. I think if you really are a decent person, it’s natural to feel caught in the middle when you have been gifted wonderful, expensive things. I think it’s perfectly okay to be grateful for what you have been given, even if what you have been given isn’t a necessity. You can’t live your life feeling badly that others don’t have as much, but you do. Quite frankly, no matter what situation you’re in — someone will always have less! So I say, enjoy what you have, and show your gratitude by passing if forward when the opportunity arrives.

    And as far as talking about what you have…as long as it’s in good taste — I think it’s all good.

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  43. When you receive something that feels luxurious, do you feel guilty? How do you deal with that emotion? – I do not receive something this luxurious unless I am purchasing it for myself, so I would not feel guilty because I know I worked hard for it.
    My parents are unable to spent that amount of money on their children and since I have a mac and an ipod (that i’ve purchased myself) I see no need for the ipad.

    How would you prefer that the bloggers you read talk about this sort of thing? Does it annoy you? Feel like they are bragging? – it does not annoy me, however it does come off as bragging a little tiny bit, but it is xmas and people like to post about what they got. If this was the only xmas post then I would think it was done in poor taste, but it’s not so I cant really complain. Plus I’m guilty of posting about expensive items I’ve purchased.

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  44. Stephanie Phillips says:

    I’ve been chewing on this one all day because I just get
    upset over one line. I’m not particularly well spoken, so I’m going
    to wing this. You said: TH and I frequently bemoan the reality that
    the more educated and aware you become, the harder life becomes. I
    HATE that mentality. HATE it. HATE. It’s absolute bull and I’m
    surprised nobody has called you on it. The reality is that the more
    educated and aware you become, the more responsible you should be.
    The more grateful for the things that you have, the more
    appreciative of the things you have earned, the more pleased with
    your own accomplishments you should be. And the more frustrated
    with those who make you feel guilty for having things. If you
    (general you) have pursued a career/an education, then you DESERVE
    the rewards of it. What is there to feel guilty about?? Gah, I HATE
    this mentality. So, don’t be an educated martyr. Buck up. It really
    isn’t that hard to have it well. I have months were I wonder how I
    will pay a bill and Christmases when I get diamond earrings. Shut
    up and enjoy it, nobody pities your “guilt.” **I generally enjoy
    reading everything you write. Not today, sorry.

    Reply

    Rubrowneyes Reply:

    Seems pretty well spoken to me! That’s exactly how I felt
    when I read it.

    Reply

    Sharon Reply:

    Right on. I’m thrilled your parents got you a beautiful gift, no problem there. Mine are elderly and even though the have the money, they don’t send any gifts at all all year.

    I’m still stuck on why T1 didn’t get any presents, though. A baby’s first Christmas?

    Reply

    Anna Reply:

    Very well said Stephanie. My impression of this post is that Jenna was looking for a way to announce her gift in a “nice” way. As I stated in response to another commenter, I’ve just always been taught that it is vulgar to discuss one’s material possessions. Thank the giver and be grateful, leave it at that!

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  45. I also got an iPad for Christmas, and I am in love. My
    husband and mother joined forces this year to get me something they
    knew I really wanted but would never actually buy. I am ecstatic
    that I got one – especially because they got it in hopes to support
    my impending business ventures – but I also understand the feeling
    of “flashiness” when talking about it. I’m actually dreading the
    Secret Santa exchange my girlfriends and I are having tomorrow
    because I don’t want to come off as boastful. There is something
    that seems very indulgent about the iPad, especially in a time when
    you hear about so many others in need. But the truth is, like you
    said, your parents worked hard and this is them reaping their
    reward. There’s nothing wrong with showing gratitude to those
    who’ve done for us; we just need to be sure to spread our
    blessings.

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  46. Can I find it ironic that you bought your child nothing for Christmas, yet were gifted with an iPad?

    Regardless of my child remembering what they got on their first Christmas, I would remember, and that makes all the difference. My girls have asked what their first gift was. I am happy I can show them pictures of what Mom and Dad gave them. They glow when we tell them and some of the gifts they still have, because we were purposeful in what we selected. I don’t buy that he doesn’t need anything right now that you could not have wrapped up and gifted him with. It is in the home where we learn the gift of both giving and receiving.

    Enjoy your iPad. I got one too from my husband. Do I feel guilty, no. I bust my butt for my family, his family and my extended family. It is nice to see it recognized and appreciated this time of year.

    Reply

    Virginia Reply:

    I agree with you in that I would have bought something that is always useful, like… socks, and wrapped it. Possibly.

    But I can definitely believe that T1 didn’t need anything. Kids (especially babies) need a lot less than people like to believe (this is general, I know you’re aware of this since you have children).

    I think this philosphy regarding gifts is in keeping with the way Jenna tries to live her life – and acting in accordance to one’s beliefs even when we’d like to do otherwise is something that needs to be modeled for children too.

    Reply

    Sophia Reply:

    Melissa-

    I think this is just a case of there being no right or wrong, just different perspectives and family traditions. You and your girls may have cherished memories, and share pictures of their first gift, but I have never asked my mother that, and I can’t think of any pictures of me where I am specifically displaying my “first gift”. My first birthday party, the only pictures are of me and my cake, and I don’t even have pictures of myself on my first Christmas (I was 10 months), much less pictures of my first gift. I think it’s great that you and your daughters and your family share those memories, but I also think that not every family is like that. For example, this year no one in my family, on my dad’s side or my mom’s side, gave or received gifts if they were over 18. And there were many years growing up, as a child, where we received exactly one gift. Personally, I can totally see myself not going all out for “baby’s first Christmas” if baby is under a year.

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  47. I like the fact that you talk about things like this. It definitely doesn’t seem like bragging to me! You write about your life, and obviously a gift as awesome as an iPad is an exciting thing in your life! Hooray for you!!! :)

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  48. Kristin - Bien Living Design says:

    Well, I am typing this response on my iPad as we are
    driving through the state of Indisna, so I obviously support and
    love our iPad! I really don’t feel guilty for having nice things.
    We work hard and we also give back.

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  49. I think you feel guilty because you try your best to
    portray an image of yourself here that you don’t live up to in the
    real world. You’ve tried to portray yourself as miserly and a
    budget minded person, but your actions show something different.
    You spend a lot of money on your food, you own very expensive
    camera equipment that was all bought on “loans” (loans from home
    are still loans) and you’ve travelled quite a bit. I think TH is
    the budget guy who isn’t into presents and unnessecary things and
    you’re stuck in the middle trying to become a new person for him
    and not being the person you are. That’s why you have this extreme
    dualism in your posts. I think if you stop pretending that you are
    this super thrifty and sensible person, the guilt will go
    away.

    Reply

    Meg Reply:

    Wow. I don’t think there is anything wrong with struggling with who we once were and who we want to become. Perhaps Jenna was a person who was materialistic (based on her posts about being seriously in debt during her college years) and perhaps she wanted to change that when she met/married her husband. What is wrong with that?

    That’s like someone (like myself) struggling with wanting to eat healthier because I use to gorge myself on junk food but when I met my husband and saw his good habits, I wanted to change. So now I’m struggling with still indulging but feeling guilty because I want to make myself better. Are you really saying I should just eat junk and stop pretending? Like you’re telling Jenna?

    Struggling to leave behind something we don’t like about ourselves is human in my opinion.

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  50. I really don’t ever mind when people post about things they’ve received or bought; everyone spends their money differently and who’s to judge? I’m happy you got an iPad — I have one too and love it!!

    Baby K likes to play with some of the baby piano apps. There’s a cute Peter Rabbit book app that she also likes. For me — Martha Stewart Living magazine on the iPad is an amazingly well-designed interactive app and the MS cookie app is also great fun :). Craigly for searching Craigslist by images; many shopping sites like Gilt also have iPad apps. I use Epicurious for recipes on occasion as well. I know I’m forgetting some since I’m at work and don’t have it with me! :(

    Enjoy it!!

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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