Christmas: Don't be a victim

As for the issue of commercialization, it should be obvious that the Wise Men went Christmas shopping. Gold doesn’t grow on trees, and frankincense and myrrh require human labor to produce. Merchants have been capitalizing on the holiday since the very first Christmas. - David Chilton, from the article, "Let's Keep Christmas Commercialized."

I thought the above was funny and possibly true. The wise men were the first Christmas shoppers and okay, there may be nothing wrong with some shopping for loved ones. This does not mean that we "loathe Baby Jesus" as Bill O'Reilly suggests, but wow...we have taken the simple act of gift giving to frenetic extremes.

For the past  couple years, I have banned myself from becoming a victim - of Christmas. One year, I paid $10 for a taxi ride to the mall - on any other day, it would have been $3. But these mischievous, cannibalistic, opportunistic drivers saw fit to make a killing cause they knew there would be stupid, desperate people like myself who would fork over the extra 7 dollars to get that present or those new sheets.

I now sit back in my house, with my car safely parked in my driveway, and my credit cards hidden away in my purse, no longer a victim of the media fuelled frenzy. You pick up the paper today and you're likely to see hundreds of ads where merchants are pulling you into their shops with the promise of Christmas gratitude.

Gifts for Dad
Your mum will love you
Make this Christmas special for your kids

Or the promise of your fantasy home, the perfect HGTV/Martha Stewart-esque home for entertaining legions of envious friends and family.

Sleep on a bed fit for a queen
Get a kitchen your friends will die for
Ho Ho Home

So what? My mum will not love me if I don't buy that expensive necklace or gadget? My house will not be fit or holiday entertaining if I don't come to your store and drop hundreds and hundreds of dollars?

But where are the ads which remind shoppers that there are still 31 days in January which one must get through AFTER the madness of Christmas consumerism? Because even the banks get on the money-grubbing bandwagon with loan sales, credit card offers and the like. I am not advocating Scroogey/Grinch like behaviour, but don't get caught up in the hype. I just follow 3 easy steps to ensure I am not ringing the bell on a street corner in January to pay for food and gas.

1. Have a budget. Even Christmas requires a solid plan, so outline how you're going to spend this money and stick to it. Be reasonable and practical and include all your regular expenses like mortgages, utility bills etc. Cause guess what? They don't stop coming.

2. Make a gift list, trim your gift list, stick to your gift list. Not everyone can get a present. I only shop for my parents and my brother and I stick to this. The only other Christmas expense I incur is for a family or person who needs a hand during the holidays, and this year it was Hannah Lendor. So I don't do Secret Santa at work and that nonsense. Keep it simple. Keep it clean. Keep within my budget and my tried and tested gift list.

3. Shop early. Rush shopping means crap shopping means expensive shopping. You end up buying crap on the go or something you may not have budgeted for because you're all sweaty and harassed in a store packed with other last minute shoppers. Newsflash: Christmas is the SAME DAY EVERY YEAR. lol. So you can plan for it. I have nothing left to buy. Shopping is complete.

Life is good.


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