….”aaaaand we’re off!!” To to the non-stop insanity that is the pre-Christmas season (and I’m using Christmas here more in the calendar sense, rather than religious right now, so am intending it to be viewed as inclusive.) The goofy commercials have started with the Hershey’s kisses bell ringers, the obligatory ones telling us it’s a “Lexus to remember December” so that every woman can imagine that day when she wakes up to a new snowfall and a shiny new Lexus with a huge red bow in the driveway of her picture book two story home, or the one that always tugs on my heartstrings – when Tommy comes home unexpectedly and brews Folger’s coffee to wake up his family. Our trees are going up, decorations are coming out, lights are on outside. It’s always fun too, for new neighbors in the neighborhood as they get to see who decorates their home and yard like it’s a Charlie Brown tree, and who’s competing with the Griswold’s. It can be a pretty bad culture shock for the unprepared…unless of course they ARE they Griswold’s. Then of course there are the ones I REALLY hate. Engineers. You can tell when an engineer has decorated the outside of his home, the lights wrapped around the trees look so evenly spaced it’s as if they were put on with a ruler (which they were, trust me, my old neighbor did it.)
It’s also the season of ridiculous gift buying. I don’t know why we don’t just buy ourselves a gift card and be done with it. Isn’t that what it amounts to? It isn’t even fun anymore. I love Christmas as a kid. My parents found us the best stuff. I look back at the pictures, and I remember playing with our gifts all year long. One year I got an umbrella that was clear plastic and had flags from around the world all over it. I’m not too sure why I didn’t look very happy, probably was the horn rimmed glasses. But trust me, I LOVED that umbrella, and I don’t think my parents mortgaged the house to buy it or anything else that year (or others.) We got a game called “Tip-It” that you can see, “Game of States” which is behind my sister’s legs on the floor and our big gift that year to share (yes kids, you can share gifts, you don’t all need your own) was something called a “Show ‘N Tell” which had a record player, film player and AM radio all in one. We had some books on a small filmstrip that went into the machine, with an accompanying 45 rpm record, and you’d start it up. It would automatically advance the film strip as the story narrated on the record. I remember listening over and over to “The Count of Monte Cristo” on that. One of the most fun things were our Christmas stockings. Mom hung them on the mantle until Santa came and then he took them down. Because of course they would simply be too heavy to stay tacked up on the mantle with the thumbtack she used to put them there. And boy, were they ever filled…with a roll of lifesavers, a pack of gum, an orange, some socks, maybe some pencils or pens with your name on them. Little things that cost almost nothing. It’s a tradition that I’ve continued with my husband. I like having lots of stuff to open. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, and it’s better that it doesn’t, so the little funny stocking stuffers are a great way to do that.
This morning I was surfing CNN and saw a story that caught my eye…”Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers” and I thought hmm, wonder what they come up with. Not one thing was cheaper than $29, and most were $49 and up. WHAT? I don’t consider things that cost 50-60 and even $70 stocking stuffers. How the hell much are people spending on Christmas gifts anyhow? We don’t have kids, if you read this blog regularly you know that, and we don’t go over the top on gifts at Christmas. (Well, there was that one time. Last year in the fall we bought a hot tub, so we did decide that was an early Christmas gift, and that was that.) But otherwise we generally keep it under the national debt. We don’t put anything on credit cards for Christmas. If we can’t pay for it in December – other than the aforementioned hot tub – it ain’t getting bought. No one needs anything that badly that you need to put something on a credit card you’ll still be paying off 6 years from now at 22% interest. Seriously? You really gotta do the math on that. It should scare the crap out of you what that will actually cost you in interest and probably a late fee or 6. You think I’m kidding? Here are some sobering statistics:
One quarter of the parents surveyed have taken drastic measures to fund their purchases: 11% have dipped into their retirement account, 14% used funds from their emergency savings and 11% have taken out a payday loan.
from Here’s How Far Parents Will Go to Pay for Christmas Gifts CNN.com 12/10/16
Get back to the things that mean something and don’t cost your soul. My grandmother gave me a jewelry box in 1969. I can still remember sitting on the floor at their house and opening her gift, and finding that, and how excited I was to have my very own jewelry box.
That same jewelry box is 47 years old, and I still use it, and think of her every time I open it. It doesn’t look as pretty, the female ballerina dancer is long lost (although I still have the boy) as is the cover to the small inside box with the red tassel and the key to the outside. The metal piece over the keyhole fell off but I have it, and the musical mechanism works.
For the eagle eyed of you, yes, same horn rimmed glasses and dress as the first photo. I should say this isn’t me, but my sister. (I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read my blog, so it’s a good test!) Hey that’s not me, that’s my youngest sister. I’m cuter.
Seriously though, I hope that your holiday season is special, however you celebrate.