Have Yourself a Merry Little Everything
Dec. 6, 2010
My plan this year is to spend less on the holidays than last year. Because we celebrate eight nights of Hanukkah in addition to 24 days of Advent, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, it has been a challenge. I started the process early to avoid the last-minute-buying-over-night-delivery-expense that is the usual hallmark of my holiday season. I would like to say I took a tip from my son, who started his planning in the spring, but Hanukkah coming early this year went a long way towards deadline motivation.
My 4-year-old, Bob, presented me with his “Hanukkah and Christmas list for Santa” back in May. “Please write this down, Mom. Are you writing this down?” Despite our many conversations about the holidays and the spirit of giving rather than receiving, he has continued to add to the list. There are two categories on Bob’s list: Star Wars and Star Wars Legos. There are also a few random transformer items listed just to mix it up.
Because my kid currently has the distinction of being the only grandchild on both sides of the family, there has been an email-based Star Wars list coordination between the grandmas, significantly taking the heat off of Santa’s thin wallet. I did find a deal on a used Star Wars Lego set on eBay and scored a box of used Star Wars paraphernalia at a friend’s yard sale. The force has been with me.
The rest of the holiday spending breaks down like this:
- I shopped for a number of the women in my life on a site that sells jewelry hand made by women in Uganda that directly benefits them and their families.
- We shopped online for books for the children and photos and personalized calendars for the grandparents.
- We bought a goat for a family in need through one our favorite charities in honor of all of the people on our holiday card list.
- We will be hand making and baking gifts for the neighbors.
- Our family will be giving gift cards from a local supermarket to our garbage man, handy man, and postal carrier.
- I will be making homemade Play Doh for my son. He goes through tubs of the stuff on a regular basis. (One of the few non-Star Wars related presents.)
- Through good fortune and the generosity of the sponsors of some work-related conferences I have attended, I brought back a couple of big ticket items for free that will be terrific gifts. I also received a large discount on our holiday cards this year.
- We purchased tickets to a musical for my in-laws.
This pre-December buying is something I have always hoped to do but was never quite able to make happen until this year. Shopping early, I was able to pick and choose instead of the hurried frenzy of throwing cash at the gift list. The best part is that I am now free to slow down and enjoy the season without all of the rushing around, affording me the most valuable commodity of all: Free time to celebrate the holidays with my friends and relatives.
—Lisa is a former comedy writer for television. She now writes about her funny family at her blog Smacksy.com.