I've read obituaries where it asks that instead of sending flowers, to please make a donation to a charity. I'm going to assume there's nothing wrong with that since so many people/families do that.
Would there be anything wrong with doing something similar for Christmas presents? Here's what I'd like to say or write (snail mail or email) to my relatives:
While I appreciate that you would like to give me a Christmas gift this year, I would like to ask that you give a gift of "donation" instead. As you all know, I take in stray and sickly animals that would otherwise be euthanized in an animal shelter. I care very deeply for the well-being of these animals. Due to the rising cost of animal/pet care, I ask that you either "donate" a Petsmart, Walmart, or preferably Visa gift card for pet supplies or "donate" one of the following pet supplies items: (this is where I would list pet food, pet supplies, etc.). While I do appreciate receiving gifts that I can use for myself (who doesn't?), I am at a point in my life where it is far more rewarding to put my four-legged furpals before my own wants and needs. Thank you... and I'm sorry but your "donation" is not tax deductible.
I can tweak that a bit if needed, it could probably use better wording. But is there anything wrong with sending that to my family? Afterall, I thought Christmas was supposed to be about giving and not about selfish wants. While I can afford to care for these animals, money does get tight and it seems silly to put useless, unneeded material possessions before a living being. If Christmas truly is about giving, then no one should object to me asking for pet supplies. At least, that's how I see it.