It's a different kind of Christmas this year for many Rogue Valley residents. The economic roller coaster has made some people more cautious about spending, and more thoughtful about the things that really matter.
Julie Kerr of Medford will be married this spring, and she's not expecting a diamond engagement ring under the tree because she and her fiancé Nick are putting every penny aside. "I've always wanted a love note, some things about how he feels about me," Julie says. "That doesn't cost anything but it means a whole lot — kind of a foundation for moving forward."
Julie thinks the idea might be a little corny for Nick, so she'll just throw it out there and see what happens. "I think he'd feel happy that it wouldn't cost money or take time to think about it," she says with a laugh.
With two active boys, Joey aged 9 and Josh aged 6, Lisa and David Biondi of Medford are always on the go. The kids come first, and there's not much time or money left over at the end of the month. "We haven't gotten anything for each other for years and years," Lisa says. "We have an agreement about Christmas presents."
But a gift that does catch Lisa's fancy is the gift of time with her husband.
"It would be nice if we could do a date night just for us, because we concentrate on the kids so much. It wouldn't have to be anything extravagant, just time," Lisa dreams. "It would be fun to go someplace unexpected, maybe a concert or dinner out, something mid-priced, not too elegant."
Are you listening, guys?
A scavenger hunt over the next month to set up the surprise, and mini breaks after the kids have gone to bed transforms the gift into a loving interlude that will last the whole season. "Time is one of the most important things there is because you tend to get caught up doing things for everybody, but each other, " Lisa says.
Andy Ackerman of Central Point loves Christmas with piles of presents under the tree. Over the course of 20 years, his wife Kristy has cherished every single gift, from flowers and candy to clothes and jewelry. This year, though, things are different.
"We haven't had a family vacation for several years," Kristy explains. "My daughter's a junior in high school this year and I want to spend our money doing something as a family together rather than getting a lot of gifts." She and Andy have talked about it, but the tradition of gifts under the tree is a hard one to break. "Andy thinks I'm going to expect more and really I'm not," says Kristy. "I'm not going to be disappointed if we don't spend a lot of money at Christmas time because we're going to go on this vacation."
Andy has a great tradition that Kristy loves and it costs very little, but is huge in thought and fun. "Andy always fills it [her stocking] up with something you'll laugh about — you can spend $2 and laugh all day long," Kristy exclaims.
"I feel like a little kid every Christmas morning because I don't know what's going to be in that stocking, from little kid's toys to candy. There's stories for weeks afterwards about what's in your stocking."
For many Rogue Valley women, the 2008 holiday season will be a special time, a time of change and choice. Whether you're starting a new family, celebrating with your spouse or teaching your children about the value of giving, this holiday season is about fun and family and faith, not the presents under the tree.
"You don't have to spend a lot of money," Kristy reminds us. "You don't need elaborate things to make the holidays fun."
Giving time, thought and caring, with a bit of fun, during the holidays — and beyond — is what every woman really wants. Just ask her.