Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hitting the Holiday Wall

I hit the wall this weekend – the holiday wall where my vague ideas and free-rambling gift lists meet doing the math.

Historically, we spend too much at Christmas. January and February are usually unpleasantly lean. I am determined to avoid this in 2008. While I don't expect the beginning of 2009 to be worry free, I'd rather not be sweating bullets at the end of each month.

I always begin with the best of intentions but then time slips away and it's suddenly the last minute. I get caught up in the manic holiday hustle and I overspend.

I'm going in this year with a clear head, and a small, tidy and reasonable gift list. I'm going to be realistic about what we can spend while keeping my eyes open for bargains. (Anyone know where I can get a saxophone for $100??)

I'm going to make some things on my own. I'm going to make some things with The Kid's help. I'm going to mail packages on time so I don't have to express mail things at the very last minute.

I am going to keep my heart and brain connected and shop earlier, with more creativity and fewer dollar signs. I'm going to trust that people know I love them, that I have nothing to prove.

I want this to be the best Christmas yet and I know that has nothing to do with how many gifts are under the tree, or how much we spent.

I'm saying it out loud. This year I'm all about less debt, more love.


  1. I heard a long NPR piece about how food banks all over the country are having to close up shop because of the lean economy. My kids are getting a few things (some thriftstore items), Mr. G. and I don't do gifts and everyone else is getting a small donation made in their name to the local food bank. The whole world is brimming with too much stuff. Resist the debt.

  2. I remember when you wrote about the food bank crisis. I think the donation idea is brilliant.

    We are scaling back immensely. I am surfing etsy for a few things, knitting like crazy...

  3. Remember that Bill McKibben "Hundred Dollar Christmas" book that came out several years ago? I have one gathering dust around here somewhere ...

    You know you can buy one of those crates of clementines for under $10? Maybe find an inexpensive blue pottery bowl to put them in -- or just paint and decorate the wooden crate. One year we gave my nieces mortars and pestles and whole spices, because they loved grinding spices when they visited us. Mer found the M&P's for $10 at World Market.

    It's a challenge every year. Extended family who spend a lot on our kids are the most difficult to deal with. We feel like we have to spend that much on THEIR kids. We actually even opted out of the big family name-drawing the last couple of years. We are the grinches of our family. >:(

  4. I TOTALLY forgot to say that I love Debra's lovely things at From Skilled Hands, and plan to ask Mark for the beautiful green pitcher I've had my eye on there for months. :) It isn't inexpensive, but it's something I want, instead of a surprise gift that I really DON'T want. And it's handmade. I love the idea of giving handmade.

  5. Laura! Thanks for reminding me of Bill McKibben's "Hundred Dollar Christmas". I just put it on hold at the library...

    Other than The Kid's essential legos, I am trying to stay as handmade this year as possible.

  6. I've never heard of "Hundred Dollar Christmas"--thanks Laura and Laura!!

    Mark and I are usually the grinches of the family, too (on his side, I mean)--but considering that most of his family works for the American auto industry, I think they might be coming around to our way of thinking.

    In the past, instead of gifts to each other, we've done things like buy a llama through The Heifer Project. We may stick to charities close to home this year--The Maryland Food Bank or Fuel Fund.