(First of all....an apology to my non-Christian readers. I refer to Christmas but the sentiment in this piece applies to any holiday we feel obliged to give gifts.)
In our culture it seems we are always celebrating something or at least the merchants and advertisers would like us to. It used to be that Christmas wasn’t considered until we made it through Thanksgiving. Now Halloween items mysteriously disappear the night of October 31st and are miraculously replaced with Christmas and Hannukah merchandise by the morning of November first. I’m not sure what we can do about the pressure that’s exerted on the public to buy early and buy often. I make a concerted effort not to wander the holiday aisles in the stores until I’m good and ready. I refuse to be manipulated into buying needless crap. I turn off the sound on the holiday TV commercials and change the dial on the radio when the holiday music begins. Or perhaps the best defense to this constant bombardment is a good offense.
There’s no rule that says we can only plan, make or buy in the few weeks leading up to a holiday. We can do this all year round. When we’re in the mood. When we have the money. When we see just the right thing. When it’s on sale! I prefer that and then I don’t feel as manipulated by the powers that be. There’s nothing I dislike more than going out shopping for something at the last minute…fighting the crowds, spending money I don’t have and then coming up with a mediocre gift that doesn’t thrill me or the receiver.
Just because the merchants tell us there are only 54 or 19 or 2 shopping days until Christmas doesn’t mean we need to believe them. Starting with December 26 there are actually 364 days ‘til Christmas. This thinking applies to all holidays that you deem as requiring a gift. (Might want to re-think that too.) Generally you know who’s on your holiday gift lists from year to year. Keep your eyes open and your list handy. It can save you much bother and craziness as the holiday approaches. And by planning ahead it’s more likely you will come up with a gift that’s more pleasing to the receiver and environmentally conscious. After a specific holiday it’s time to shop the sales. The day after the holiday you’ll find all kinds of deals as they try to make room on the shelves for the next holiday…cards, decorations, wrapping supplies etc.
As the weather changes my thoughts naturally go to the season of year when there is an inordinate amount of gift giving going on. Weather proof the house....what should we do for Mom and Dad for Christmas? Rake leaves....who gets to choose the charity for the family to contribute to this year? Cover the lawn furniture...what can I make for friends that won't break my budget? Turn off the water, take in the hoses...stop needless, unconscious spending, be creative, think ahead, start NOW!