I really love the holidays—and I want to just relax and enjoy the season but I am already stressing over spending money on gifts. I am single and supporting myself so I don’t have a lot of money to spend. I have a great group of friends and I love getting together with them over the holidays and doing things—and I also enjoy exchanging gifts—but I feel like I can’t keep up with them financially. They often get me something very nice, and I want to reciprocate but it is way out of my budget. I have suggested in the past that we have a spending limit. They have all agreed…but when the holiday rolls around they still spend the same amount—which is more than I can afford. It’s embarrassing and also a lot of pressure. I don’t want to be a scrooge about it but I don’t know what to do. Help!
Dear Bah Humbug,
We empathize with you and realize that the holidays can be a stressful time—especially related to finances!! How wonderful that you have a great group of friends, though, and can share time with them! What a gift! Now, to the challenge at hand regarding spending the same amount—we hear you! It can feel uncomfortable when one is unable to reciprocate in the way it feels most appropriate. And it is challenging when folks make an agreement and somehow miss the mark or cross that boundary. However, beyond the gift dollar amount, what we hear behind the embarrassment and feelings of pressure could be a difficulty in receiving. As written in the book Love Over Scotland by Alexander McCall Smith, “Gracious acceptance is an art—an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving.... Accepting another person's gift is allowing him to express his feelings for you.” Have you ever thought that the act of receiving a gift from your “great group of friends” that you “love getting together with” is a gift to them? This isn’t meant to negate your feelings—not at all.
But a plea to examine your feelings around receiving, not just Christmas gifts but anything. The embarrassment of receiving may also manifest itself in feeling embarrassment when receiving support or, even, not wanting to ask for help or support at all. Could this Christmas gift exchange dilemma be indicators of something more? So, what do you do? You can have an earnest discussion with them (again) regarding dollar amounts. But if that doesn’t work, we suggest receiving and embracing the idea that you receiving their gift is a priceless gift to them! Wishing you a beautiful holiday season filled with gifts of all kinds!
I recently moved to the Atlanta area. I’m from a small town up north. I was excited about this move—and really looking forward to being in a big city where I could meet lots of new and interesting people. Unfortunately, so far I just feel overwhelmed. I don’t really know where to start or how to begin the process of meeting people in such a big place. It seems like whenever I go out places I run into crowds of people who already know each other…and it feels like there just isn’t room for one more. I’m getting especially concerned because the holidays are coming up and I fear I will be spending them alone. Where can I go or what activities can I try where I can feel more comfortable introducing myself—and where I’m more likely to be welcomed and received?
Lonely Down South
Welcome to Atlanta, Lonely Down South! Indeed, there are many new and interesting people to meet in Atlanta—over 5.7 million in the Atlanta Metro Area. Enough people to meet yet enough to feel overwhelmed. We get it! We have heard from several readers over the years asking advice on how to navigate a move into such a large city. You are not alone!
In the words of Francesco Guicciardini, “Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends, never lose a chance to make them.” It sounds like you have been trying but to no avail. Have you tried participating in organized activities with those that share similar interests: Bocce ball teams, Chess clubs, Mahjong, Ball room dance, knitting, running clubs, gardening clubs. There are many groups where you can find people that share your similar interest. Something else that may be of interest to you is our Sage Center Community Gathering on Friday, December 8th from 4-6pm. Enjoy meeting your neighbors and make new friends! We’d love to meet you! Perhaps you can gain ideas on other ways to meet new people in Atlanta and create meaningful lasting relationships! We will have a special space awaiting you!
Pegge Riley, LPC and Angela Wacht, LPC are Counselors and Directors of Sage Center: Counseling, Consulting, and Creative Community Wellness. They are here to provide suggestions and guidance about everyday life. To submit a question or concern to Sage Advice go to www.SageCenterAtlanta.com and click on the Sage Advice tab. The advice in this column is general and is not intended as actual counseling for specific issues or concerns. If you need to address more specific issues requiring more intensive focus, please contact Sage Center at 404-419-6221 or visit our website at www.SageCenterAtlanta.com