Gift guilt

Dear Annie: It was a wonderful Christmas season. However, I’m finding myself more guilt-ridden than ever. Here’s why:

My wife and I are “gifters.” We like to think of all the people in our lives whom we can think of — near, far, wherever they are — and try to give them something. Most of the gifts are fairly nice. For people we don’t know so well or aren’t so close to, we’ll buy smaller gifts. We feel everyone should get something on Christmas.

We often will do a big baking day, making cookies and candies and cakes and all the lovely Christmas sweets you can think of. Those go into Christmas tins wrapped with bows and ribbons and partnered with other gifts. We feel they are wonderful gifts.

However, we always find that people are spending way more on our gifts than we are on theirs. Sometimes it’s substantially more than we would ever spend. For example, a friend might give us a gift worth $60 when we spent $20 on her gift.

I’m left feeling as if our gifts weren’t good enough. (Not that anyone has ever said that.) We get some really great stuff, and I just feel at the end of the season as if we didn’t give enough. Any way to cure my anxious thoughts for the next season? — Guilt-Ridden Christmas Giver

Dear Guilt-Ridden Christmas Giver: Rid yourself of that guilt, because it’s the thought that counts, and it’s incredibly thoughtful of you and your wife to make gifts. Homemade gifts require more thought and labor than store-bought ones. Perhaps the friends who are showering you with expensive gifts recognize that and want to go out of their way to thank you for your efforts. So stop putting yourself down. Start acknowledging the joy you’ve brought others.