It may be blizzarding in Boston and sleeting in St. Louis but here, there and everywhere throughout the land—the heat is on!
With only weeks to go until Christmas, pressure is building. For some of us that pressure is originating with the retailers, decorators and marketers. They so amazingly create the sights and sounds of Christmas that pierce our hearts and cause us to spend as if there will be no tomorrow.
For others that pressure comes through the bright eyes of expectant children. We can’t bear the thought of a disappointed child.
And then there are those of us who manage to create our very own pressure—and plenty of it. Pressure to get everything right, pressure to make sure everyone will be perfectly satisfied and never want for more. And while we’re at it, create peace on earth as well.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Haven’t we learned to prioritize? Don’t we know by now that the secret to loving the month of December is to slow down so we can enjoy? To eliminate so we can concentrate? One would think...
Look, I’m the first to admit that even with all that I know to be true, when I hear a chorus of "Silver Bells" or "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" (Mel Torme, is that you?) I melt into a puddle of sentimentality. After all, this is the first Christmas I’ll have a daughter. And a new grandpuppy. See? I could come up with all kinds of reasons that I need to load up on girly-stuff, squeaky toys and then an equal number of electronics for the guys to make sure everything is perfectly even. Argh!
Because I know how easy it is for some of us to slip into all-out shopping-binge mode, I have created a simple Holiday Survival Guide suitable for carrying in one’s pocket.
Instructions for use: Recite and repeat the appropriate affirmation over and over until the feeling subsides.
It is not my responsibility to fulfill the deepest longings and hearts’ desires of those on my gift list. This important tool in your survival kit is the antidote for slipping into I-have-to-find-the-perfect-gift mode.
Focus, focus, focus. This survival tool should be used whenever feeling the need to buy yourself a little something for the holidays because...
a. It’s on sale.
b. It’s really cute.
c. No one ever gives me what I really want anyway.
My homemade gifts are treasures both rare and unique. As a crafter from way back, I know the horrible sensation of one minute thinking this is the best thing I’ve ever made, to seeing it as ridiculously stupid the next. The only thing better than making a special gift for someone you love is receiving one. And that is the truth. Keep repeating this over and over.
Gifts are quickly forgotten, debt goes on forever. Say it again. The more compelled you feel to put ‘just this one thing’ on the credit card, the more your volume should increase.
Christmas at home is our family’s tradition. This tool is designed for families with young children who heretofore have felt compelled to travel to both sets of grandparents all the while keeping track of time to make sure each side of the family logs exactly the same number of hours/minutes with the children. Whew! Tell them to come to your house this year. And every year from here on out because now it is a tradition.
Above all I give thanks. It’s easy to get so caught up in the trappings and the busyness of the holidays that we forget what Christmas is all about. It’s a time to seek God, to focus on his great gift and to praise him with a heart of gratitude, praise and love. Just keep saying it.
Again. And again. And again.
Mary Hunt is a syndicated personal finance columnist and author of Debt-Proof Your Christmas: Celebrating the Holidays without Breaking the Bank. Mary is the also founder of Debt-Proof Living.