Help The Economy, Buy Less For Christmas!


“You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?” ~Steven Wright

It’s the first of November…do you know where your credit cards are?

I pity the fool who starts Christmas shopping now!

 

You know what that means. For the next 54 1/2 days, we’ll be engaged in an all-out blitz of wintery capitalist mania, buying things for (the most part) people we don’t even like, stocking up on useless trinkets just because they’re “on sale,” risking life and limb just to secure a parking space within two football fields of the local emporia. Throw out the jack-o-lanterns and leftover Halloween candy; skip straight over Thanksgiving…it’s officially Christmas shopping season.

There are ways of getting around this strange bacchanalia of spending, of course, Shopping online is every agoraphobe and Aspie’s best friend. The stuff I want gets delivered right to my door, no parking or lines or added costs to worry about. When you can now order almost anything from a tropical fish to a full-size replica lightsaber via the Web, that’s a great thing.

When I think of Christmas...

This year, especially in this recession economy, I’d like to offer an unusual proposition: that buying less for the holidays is actually good for the economy, and better for our overall wellness. You think I’m crazy, but let me elucidate…

If we’re spending less, there’s more money left over for bigger-ticket items we’ll really remember.

Think about that…who wouldn’t really choose a family vacation, or a hot tub, or a gas fireplace, over a thousand of those chintzy pre-packaged gift sets from Wal-Mart? As Americans, we have been taught to value quantity over quality, and instant gratification over patience. Instead of buying something “just because,” why not send that person a card and either save the money or donate it to a worthy cause? We may not remember what Uncle Ernie or Cousin Rose bought us in 2006, but I guarantee we remember quality time spent with our friends and families.

Christmas cards may be old-fashioned, but they’re a tradition worth keeping.

We live in a world where it’s so easy to lose contact, even with those we truly care about. Instead of buying a ready-made gift (or the dreaded, anonymous gift card), try taking the time to write a personal note and re-connect with your cousin, your college roommate, your doctor or veterinarian. I treasure these notes every year and make an effort to write many of my own. Which leads to…

Kids’ homemade gifts are the best ones.

These are the kind of gifts everyone loves, whether they’re potholders or candles or (in my old-fashioned days) the ash tray. No monetary value can be put on them. Usually, it also gives a chance for kids to spend some quality time with family, and maybe even learn a new craft.

Consider donating time, rather than money, during the holidays.

It’s also the time of year when charitable organizations are desperate for money. It is easy enough to send $20 to a worthy cause, but why not sign up to donate your time or talent instead? You may think you don’t have anything worth sharing, but it could be as simple as helping serve food at an event for the less fortunate, reading to a hospice-bound patient, knitting scarves for those who need them. Like the Christmas cards, these are the gifts people remember long after the store-bought junk is forgotten.

Don’t feel a need to “keep up with the Joneses.”

In the book Skipping Christmas, the couple decides not to partake in the street-wide Christmas decoration frenzy. Secretly I was rooting for them. Take the money you would normally use to keep the lights and inflatable snow globes lit for a month, and buy a nice dinner or start saving for a vacation. (Hey, it might be $50-100! You never know!)

I understand some people might consider some of these ideas cheesy, or trite, or even anti-capitalist. The problem is, once we have something, we immediately want more. The true meaning of Christmas can only be found in our hearts, not in a box tied up with a fancy ribbon. To quote the inimatable Dr. Seuss:

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”- Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch

And how does any of this help the dollar-starved economy? Well, when we are at our best, financially and emotionally, we are prepared to be our best.

Happy Holidays, and don’t forget to email me if you have any other “simplifying” tips, or you just want the best ways to avoid long lines and crowds during the holidays. I’m at wikusandmurdock@yahoo.com!

Oh, and who wants a leftover Halloween Charm Pop?

 

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on November 1, 2010.

One Response to “Help The Economy, Buy Less For Christmas!”

  1. This is going to be a very frugal Christmas in my household. My daughters are beyond the Santa age, so rather than buying a bunch of gifts, I intend to buy each one a really nice gift (or two, depending on what it is) OR a nice family gift (they’ve all been asking for Rockband for a while now) and a few small things each would like. Since the shopping frenzy culture we live in is forcing me into a required 6-day work week during the month of December (including requiring me to work all weekends so I will have as little time as possibly with MY family…not that I am bitter about this…*sarcastic smile*), I intend to make that one day off a meaningful one with my children.
    So I guess what I am saying, in my very long-winded way, is that I agree with you on this one. I’ve always been a bigger fan of quality over quantity. Time to pass that appreciation on to my kiddos.

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