My first Christmas catalog arrived yesterday (a full quarter of the year before the holiday, mind you!). I’ve never been a real shop early kind of gal. I usually lump everything in to the week or two after Thanksgiving, buying without giving much thought to how much I’m spending and obsessively continuing to shop until it all feels “equal” (although I have no idea who is really keeping score). Once January rolls around and the first credit card bill arrives, I’m blown away by the expense of it all. Not to mention that many gifts are already forgotten by the time we pay for them. We often end up spending the first quarter of the year feeling totally cash strapped, and then we’re back to spending and accumulating again.
This year, I’m going to have to be a little more creative, so I’d better start now! Within our immediate family, we’ve decided that Santa still has to come to our house. Last year, our then four year old walked in on all of her Santa toys (included the piece-of-crap Amazing Amanda) sitting out on our bed late Christmas Eve. I was sure she was asleep so I staged a quick Christmas morning display run-through (again, just to make sure it all looked even). She somehow managed to wipe the image from her memory and rationalized it into some strange “dream”, so we bought ourselves another year. Gotta keep that magic alive as long as I can, so despite our non-spending ways, Santa will get credit for his generosity, and mommy and daddy will just look like cheap-asses for buying no gifts on our own.
For my side of the family, we’re taking a pre-Christmas trip. We’re heading up to the mountains, renting a cabin, eating, drinking and playing cards, and coming home with fresh Christmas trees from Western NC. Fortunately, Carter’s family long ago gave up gift buying so we’ll just aim for a post holiday trip to visit everyone. For friends, my plan is to do my best to buy “experiences”–such as children’s museum passes or movie gift certificates rather than stuff.
I’m finding that, even in my mind, it’s hard to balance out the reality of spending/buying less (even for a good cause) and feeling like a bit of a Scrooge. I can’t impose our ideas of accumulating less on others (especially my mother!), but I do want our children to see that Christmas is about being together, traveling to see family and friends, and helping other people who have less, rather than acquiring every American Girl doll accessory in the catalog.
We’ll see how we do. If you have great ideas about spending/buying less for the holidays, let me know! I’ve still got three months to survive and the catalog onslaught has just begun.