Friday, December 3, 2010

The Complete Idiot's Guide... surviving Christmas as a Scrooge.
I know Christmas is supposed to be the great holiday that caps off the end of the year. I know we are supposed to spend the month of December being jolly and buying presents and drinking cocoa. But for me, Thanksgiving is the climax of the year, and everything else beyond is downhill. Come on. It's a holiday where you get to eat great food, but you don't really have to decorate or give presents. A whole day during which you get to watch parades and dog shows and football and basically gorge yourself mid-afternoon, and then live off the leftovers for the rest of the day. And, if you're us, the next 4 days.
Yum, turkey!
Christmas somehow comes closer and closer to ruining Thanksgiving each year. In fact, a good deal of my friends went out to shop the Thanksgiving Day sales after dinner. I had no desire, and instead lazed around and watched football with my family, then went home, ate leftovers, and passed out early. It was beautiful. Then, of course, the Black Friday shoppers are out by midnight. Don't get me wrong, I know this holiday shopping is a tradition for some people and that's wonderful (my mother included). But you'll never catch me out there.
He's not a fan of Black Friday, either.

I hate the mall before Christmas. I hate the stores before Christmas. I live in Florida, and hearing White Christmas on the radio makes me roll my eyes. I always feel like Christmas is an intruder, getting in the way of my usually chilled out shopping routine. I am inundated by the bell ringers and every checkout girl asking if I'd like to make a donation to such and such, and getting dirty looks when I say no. "But it's just a dollar!" Uh, no. If I donated a dollar to every charity at every checkout before Christmas, I'd go broke. Ok. Maybe not broke. But don't assume I'm heartless. I just like my charitable contributions to be accounted for en masse so I can deduct them on my taxes. I swear I donate to good causes. Don't look at me that way!
I am Scrooge. I hate the Christmas season. It's over-commercialized and makes people drive like idiots and act like jerks. It causes stress and debt and, to those of us who have large families to buy for, a bit of animosity until everything is bought, paid for, wrapped, and shipped out.

My family gets bigger every year.

So, with my significant lack of holly jolly, how do I manage to put a good face forward during the holiday season?
I have 97% of the shopping, decorating, and planning done before Thanksgiving.
I start in December, the day after Christmas. This is the time to hit the Hallmark store and the craft stores for deeply discounted wrapping paper, Christmas cards, and even some very cute gifts. I save the gifts bags we've received. I store it all in a box marked "Christmas" and I put it away with the tree and the decorations. And I forget about it until at least July.
When July comes along, I slowly start the Christmas shopping. I pick up a gift card here and there to spread out the cost. I pick up gifts as they're on sale and as I see them. I'm not rushed. I have time to be thoughtful with the gifts I buy because I'm not panicked or broke.
By Thanksgiving, the presents are wrapped so that I can enjoy the day. The tree is up not because I want to have it up early, but because at some point during November I've cleaned out the garage and decided that I may as well do it while everything's out.

This is the week before Thanksgiving. Done and done!

Today's lesson: Not everyone is particularly amused by this holiday. Some of us would happily run away to somewhere tropical and skip it all if we could. We tried it once, but the evil power of the holiday season delayed our flights and killed our plans. So be warned!


Ninety-Nine Lives said...

I totally agree with you on buying presents early!

While we're different in the fact that I love Christmas, I too hate the busy running around and spending way too much money on gifts.

I'm in college, so for now (and for the next, like, 12 years while I pay off my massive loans), I'll be getting gifts early and cheap. Superman and I have taken to shopping together- Goodwill, surplus stores, dollar stores. Not everything is Christmas-worthy, of course, but if we look hard enough, there are always some really good finds.

I've been done with Christmas shopping since October!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your blog. Came here from Cabin Fever in Vermont. I do enjoy Christmas but also despise the commercialism and expectations of spending that accompany the season. I would like to see more emphasis on the original meaning of the season (as to why the name of the holiday is CHRISTmas). Hope to stop by and see more of your beautiful little boy. Mine are all almost grown and gone.
Deb W.