How to avoid the holiday expense hangover with grace and gratitude

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Tanya Winch
Tanya Winch

They’re back!  The same 26 holiday songs playing through every retailer’s speaker.  The same peppermint bark at every checkout.  The same car commercials with Santa promising you a new ride or a jeweler promising you a diamond solitaire with fuzzy lighting and expressions of engagement bliss.

It is a love/dislike experience for me.  On one hand, I truly love Christmas.  I believe that Jesus is AWESOME and I am overcome with joy and gratitude at every candle-lit church service.

I also absolutely LOVE to give a good gift.  But, I dislike the rest of it.   I struggle with the intense crowds, the heavy foods that I can’t resist, the awkward feeling when someone gets you a gift that you weren’t expecting, the fear that the driver in the next lane is egg nog impaired, the pressure to stay within your budget and still find meaningful gifts, and even (when I am completely honest with myself) my own desire to receive.  It is overwhelming.

This year, in order to save the “holiday expense hangover” (and for a multitude of other reasons including the family mandate that we adults will NOT purchase each other gifts), I am left to create my own “Grateful Gifts”.  Instead of purchasing gifts that will put me in the red and potentially be unwanted or add to another’s already cluttered life, I am going to create handwritten notes for everyone in my family stating why I am grateful for them, explaining how they bless my life.  This, hopefully, will fill everyone’s hearts, although it may still clutter up their lives/desks.

I am anticipating that it will actually be harder to accomplish than purchasing presents.  I am also anticipating that, even with all my good intentions, I will leave the grand majority of the notes until Christmas Eve and totally stress myself out about getting them written.  It is clearly not going to take the pressure off of Christmas giving, but I am pretty sure it will make my heart and mind more centered and focused on what is real.   I am not certain how the notes will be received, but I sure hope that they will be appreciated more than a new pair of socks.

I am slightly worried about it.  It is possible that not everyone will listen to the mandate and will purchase gifts anyway.  Another stress point.  (Personally, I think that is a form of cheating and one-up-man-ship.)  However, I will understand entirely because of the work that goes into a non-gift handwritten note.   I get it.  It’s sometimes easier to text than call.  It’s always easier to buy a pie than to make it from scratch.   I get it.   Additionally, I will certainly get over the fairness issue, especially if it comes in the form of super-fuzzy, rubber sole house slippers.

It is my hope that I will be doubly grateful for no “holiday expense hangover” come the New Year and I sincerely yearn for even more Christmas awesome in this year’s “Grateful Gifts”.

I’ll let you know how it goes …