Friday, December 14, 2007

all I want for Christmas- the cents of Christmas

Christmas always presents me with a few conundrums, generally arising from opposing desires and certain moral dictates by which I try to live my life. Really what I am saying is, the dilemma is regarding how much to spend and what to buy for my children for Christmas.

I’d love to go crazy over-the-moon and get fabulous presents. Wow everyone. Wow myself! My credit card company would be delighted and would probably oblige. And if they didn’t I have no doubt I could find one that would. My husband and credit score - maybe not so much on the delight part.

Then again, I’d like my family to focus on the meaning of Christmas, and not get hung up on what Santa is trying to squeeze down our non-existent chimney. Also, Ben’s feelings aside, I really don’t want to be paying for Christmas in July. It’s against my money ethic. I am always annoyed at my credit union when I get their annual “spend away on a new line of credit and happy holidays!” letter.

I find that even on years that are more skimpy, Christmas morning has a way of ending with a gluttonous feel. Despite my worry of not having enough and getting a few fillers at the last minute, my children have lost interest in half of their presents as soon as they’re opened and I know the truth: they don’t need that much to have a good Christmas.

What do you do to balance the wow-factor and the practical and spiritual side of spending for Christmas gifts? How do you handle your kids wish lists? What do you do so that you don’t have to loosen your financial belt to handle an ever-expanding debt-line? How do you teach your kids that the giving, not the receiving is the more important part?

These are not rhetorical questions stewing in my brain. I want to know.


  1. The "gift" part of Christmas has all but spoiled the rest of it for me. We don't overspend, but like you, over the years I've come to realize that once the gifts are opened, they are usually forgotten. And then there is the guilty feeling I get when I try to cut back. I'm a grandma now, so this is more in relation to my grandchildren, my daughter and her husband. My husband and I often don't exchange gifts, and I really don't mind that at all. My daughter and her husband are generous in their gift giving, not just to their children, but also to us. Truth be known, I'd like to do away with purchased gifts of all kinds. I love Christmas music, I love the Christmas parties with Primary children portraying the Nativity and everybody singing Christmas songs and hymns, I love going to Temple Square and seeing the lights and the Nativity there. I love to feel the season. Those are the best parts of Christmas.

    If I had it all to do over again, I would do Christmas totally different with my daughter when she was growing up. We didn't overdo then, either, but I would still be sure there was a more pronounced focus on the real meaning of Chrismas. I think gifts get in the way. (Am I a Grinch??)

    Let us know what you do and how you feel about it.

  2. I set a budget that I stick to it and then I make it as wow as possible. I am not one of those people who feels that Christmas has become too materialistic. I am not bothered that Christmas stuff comes out in the stores right after Halloween. I love it! I am always really sad when it's over and I start planning for next year in January to keep me from being too sad. The best part of my Christmas gifts are handmade by me and it really takes a year to do it.. I'm busy and have to work those projects in when I can, but I think making things and starting early saves lots of money.

    I make my Christmas list of people in Jan. and then if I see something really special for a special price I can get that item and stow it away. I'm like Santa. I have a list and check it a lot more that twice. Christmas is my hobby. I love it. I think it's all in the attitude. When we go see the lights I tell my daughter my daughter to look at all these lights and think how wonderful it is that Christ was born over 2,000 years ago and yet people seem to do more and more to celebrate his birth. All the lights celebrate his birth and all the gifts celebrate the gift he is to us. All the decorations are for his birthday party.

    I try to make Christmas magical for my daughter. My parents did that for me. Rather than spoiling me, I feel that it taught me to be generous with others. I watched my parents give what they could in the way of gifts, service and money to everyone that they could as well. I think it's important to make Christmas a time of service too and to participate in as many service opportunities as possible.. another good reason for starting early.

    Gifts do not make me feel gluttonous or materlialistic. Gifts are just a way of giving love and while the gifts are often not that important and often forgotton, the gesture love which is never forgotton.