25 December 2012

Happy Holidays

Well, it appears to be that time of the year again where everyone suddenly pretends they like each other and all gather around to act chummy. As a Christian, I personally have little care for Christmas as "Jesus' birthday" since it's anything but. A good portion of the symbolism of Christmas comes from the feast days that were absorbed and sanctified by the Church back in the day, and those celebrations were most definitely not anything a Christian should be proud of. But anyway, enough of that. We're not here to debate religious history, we're just focused about keeping our money serving us best. (Instead of the other way around!)

As I've previously alluded to, this is not my favorite time of the year. Maybe it's because for most of my life, we've lived on the opposite side of the country from the rest of my immediate extended family. More relatives do live over here in shake 'n bake near us, but we were unaware of their existence for quite some time. As a result, big family gatherings for the holidays has never become a tradition we've adopted. Some tell me I'm deprived and weird, but I've come to live with it. I found that visiting them is actually possible at other times of the year anyway, and at times that may be more pleasant and convenient.

However, not having a big celebration doesn't mean we didn't celebrate. I have plenty memories of going to buy live trees and bringing them home to decorate. Over time, that evolved into taking the fake tree out the box to set up. Lately, we just have a little tree that stays on a table for any number of months in the vicinity of this time of year. The light show on the outside has also dwindled as my brother gets less interested in climbing on the roof to set it up. My mom does still throw up a fuss about getting the wreath on the door. She's also planted the poinsettias as part of the landscaping, so their leaves are all red this time of year.

In conjunction with the Christmas trees, we also did whole Christmas morning charade, complete with presents. We'd get up, have family worship, and then open presents. As that was occurring, my dad would make breakfast. Generally, this was biscuits and gravy. Sometimes pancakes and french toast. Always good. Always homemade. (Maybe I should switch to marketing?)

But as I've gotten older and come into my own realizations about finances and money, I am now realizing that several times, the very act of finding presents under the tree was definitely quite a miracle. I'm thankful for what my parents did to make sure we wouldn't have to wake up and run to an empty tree. (It was literally empty at bedtime the night before on more than occasion.) Specific memories of most items from years gone past has failed me, but two I do remember are my guitar and some tools for working on the car. I still have both, although I cannot say I'm either Santana or Jimmy Stewart's lead mechanic yet.

This year, I again bought no presents and am not expecting to receive any. I like to think I buy people enough stuff throughout the year, so it would strike me as exceedingly odd if someone suddenly refused to associate with me due to not receiving a Christmas gift. So as selfish as it sounds, spending on gifts is no longer something that excites me...and my interest rates don't help at all. That's not to say I'll never buy Christmas gifts again, but giving gifts is no longer the focus of the holiday for me. In the past, I would spend hundreds of dollars that I didn't have buying Christmas gifts. I'm still paying for some of them, while the items themselves are long gone.

As Christmas and the holiday season passes, we will face new challenges in our finances. Since I'm one of the few who decides to minimize my buying, you might have bills coming in. Right in the middle of winter. While it may seem impossible, starting a Christmas fund for next year is probably a wise idea to avoid the problem in the future. In the short term, a second job is extremely helpful as well. But, it's still Christmas, so the present hangover can come later. If you don't work at McDonald's or in a hospital, then enjoy your day off. I actually will be at work; time and a half is always nice. So with that, I really should be off to bed. Frohe Weihnachten, und allen eine gute nacht! (Merry Christmas, and to all a good night.)

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