”Twas the night before Christmas when all through the land, retailers were nervous and sales were at hand. The shoppers were scurrying from store to store and their wallets were lighter as they walked out the door.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of X-Box danced in their heads. The parents were sleeping with troubled minds, while dreaming of time off from the daily grind.
When out in the mailbox arose such a clatter, the credit card statements had gotten much fatter. Away to the bank they drove with such force, to settle the bill with Christmas remorse.
I’m Dreaming of a Cash Christmas
This year, my goal was to pay cash (debit card) for all of my Christmas presents. And, despite a series of unexpected expenses, I only put $30 on a credit card this month. Citibank is probably wondering if I have been kidnapped by the Grinch. I worked hard all year to pay down that card and I had no intention of ringing it back up. Next year, the balance will be zero and so will the interest.
Less is Definitely More
In the past couple of years, I have changed my Christmas spending habits. I spend a lot less than I used to and everyone is fine with it. We really don’t need any new toys and trinkets, so I cut back to one entertainment gift per kid. Instead, I buy necessities, such as shoes and clothing. My kids are becoming adults and they are starting to appreciate more practical gifts. I also stopped trying to even the score by buying the exact same dollar amount per person. If one person gets $20 more worth of presents than the other, they will never know or care.
It’s a Wonderful Life
It’s a Wonderful Life is a movie that shows how overwhelming misfortune can be turned into triumph, by faith in the goodness of mankind.
A couple of days ago, I sat down with my wife and told her what a great year it has been and how thankful I am. I told her how lucky we are that I have a good job and we have a nice home. I know so many people who are on the edge financially or they have lost their homes this year. I have a good friend with an MBA who hasn’t had steady work for years. And, I have another friend who had to move back in with his parents, after 20 years out on his own. I hope for good fortune for my friends and others in the coming year.
Miracle on 34th Street
Miracle on 34th Street is a movie that shows how the Christmas spirit can overcome the bustle and commercialism that tarnish this special day.
My idea of the Christmas spirit is all of the wonderful holiday parties we attend this time of year. I also cherish the phone calls, emails and Christmas cards from those we haven’t heard from in a while. Every year, as I focus less on gifts and more on people and I find myself enjoying Christmas more. The stress and fatigue I used to feel at this time of year has been replaced by gratitude.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that Christmas is about the birth of Christ. It’s not about going into debt or impressing your neighbors. Expensive and extravagant gifts are no substitute for sharing love and compassion with others.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
“Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts.”
This post was featured on the Carnival of Personal Finance over at Blonde and Blanaced. If you aren’t familiar with the Carnival of Personal Finance, you need to check it out. It’s the greatest carnival on the net.