Merry Freegan Christmas!

That is not an expletive, it’s a concept, one enacted by our daughter last Christmas as she stretched her limited college subsidies to accommodate the substantial number of people on her gift list.  Freegans, if you don’t know, are people who only eat food they get for free.  They haunt the dumpsters outside supermarkets and restaurants, forage for wild plants and show up at friend’s houses often around suppertime.

It was an interesting concept and we all had a grand time as she explained the jars of what looked like peat moss.  She had gathered for us all “Chaga”, a hard mushroom filled with concentrated natural compounds. It  is called “The Mushroom of Immortality” by Siberians and  when we made a tea from the brown stuff, we were going to be healthy, wealthy and wise.  I still have mine if you want to try it.  Her friends got mismatched gloves that she found around campus and cleaned before wrapping.  I don’t want to know where my scarf came from.

O.K. So, we’re not all going to go “freegan” this year, but maybe in the face of that extreme it’s time to remember that although we’d like the spirit of Christmas to last all year, we don’t want the credit card bills to do likewise.  Here are some hints on getting a handle on the spending:

  • Do “Top-Down” spending. Make your list and check it twice. Plan how much you have to spend first,  THEN figure what you have to buy and how much you’ll spend on each thing.
  • Pay cash whenever you can.
  • Remember, most people have too much already.  Donations to charities are lovely gifts too.
  • Seek out unique items and shop locally.

Don’t fret if you go over a bit, try to keep it around 10%.  Be kind to yourself, it’s Christmas!

Merry (little) Christmas

The ads are starting on television so Christmas must be coming.  The Target store ads are quite charming with their images of happy family get-togethers.  One can applaud that.  One doesn’t appreciate the fact that K-Mart and other stores have breached the sanctity  of Thanksgiving  Day by starting their Black Friday sales on THURSDAY MORNING.  What was once a run-away horseback ride is turning into a full out assault that threatens to devour all that is good about the season.  It’s time to grab hold of some sanity; to not just look for the “reason for the season” but also the “reason in the season”.  Let’s step back, plan and create a Merry little Christmas.

What do you want for Christmas?

Most people over the age of 12 have abandoned the desire for material goods in favor of something more intrinsic.  “Peace” is big with the overworked crowd.  What kind of memory do you want to create this year?  Even Tiny Tim had a wonderful memory carved out of a wretched life of poverty and deprivation.  Why can’t everyone have the same.

What do you want to do this year?

  1. List the activities that matter. Don’t forget the intangibles.
  2. Re-arrange the list by priority of importance.
  3. Now, label them into “Have to” and “Want to”.  Guess which side should be weighted.

Sometimes the activities conflict.  It’s beyond simple “give and take” there also has to be a way of achieving the goals without losing any of them.

Example: Hearing Handel’s ”Messiah” live is important to you.  Giving your children a wonderfully memorable Christmas has a higher priority.  Do you:

  1. Drag them and your long-suffering husband to the performance.  They’ll appreciate it when they look back on it in the future.
  2. Don’t go. They don’t appreciate it and you don’t want to have to put up with their whining.  Besides the DVD you have is almost as good.
  3. Happily plan on going alone this year and ask who wants to join you. If no one does,  you’ll go alone.  You’ll have fun, meet people you know and the live performance will lift your soul.  Whoever wants to stay home…Merry Christmas.

Did you guess “C”?  I knew you would.  See, you’re getting it.  You know what? Next year the family may want to come with you because they see it gives YOU joy.

Next week we’ll talk money.  It not as bad as you think.  The rough one is the week after.