Holiday Spending: A New Way to Spend Your Holiday Budget
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Oddly enough, Christmas shopping has become more difficult now that I can afford presents. With a decent budget and dozens of people to gift, my creativity and shopping abilities have been put to the test. My Google searches are all paraphrases of “what to get (insert relative/friend here) who likes (insert hobby/interest here).” After hours on Amazon and Etsy, I found myself at Walmart last Saturday staring at prepackaged spa gifts and touch sensitive desk lamps. My mind spent the whole time trying to fit items to recipients and price tags to budgets. I spent my money, spent my time, spent my energy, and spent my patience. Hours later, I lay on the couch still searching for the right present for all the right people in my life.
A collection of wine-themed gifts for my classy and busy sister, a personalized pie plate for my chef of a mother, a mug that proclaims “Keep Calm and Dad Will Fix It” for my superhero of a father. A coffeemaker for my hardworking and tireless boyfriend, and a manicure for his wonderful mother. A personalized apron for his father and something caffeine-related for my bosses. A framed photo of the reminder to “dream” for my insanely brilliant friend and a body-pillow sized dog for myself (more on that later).
In the midst of the holiday chaos, I find myself spending more time thinking about all the loved ones in my life. Instead of getting frustrated, I have come to realize that this is the more important spending I am doing. I spend my time reliving favorite memories and excitedly making future plans. My weekends are spent with the people who make my life all the merrier and I couple this with the perfect dose of “me-time.” Just in time, I am reminded that holiday spending means more than what comes out of your bank account.
I propose a new budget: one that defies the very definition of the word. Instead of unlimited data, strive for unlimited laughs over Christmas dinner. In lieu of colorfully wrapped gifts, let’s embrace our colorful relatives and soak in our eclectic, and sometimes crazy, personalities. While counting our dollars on a shopping trip, let’s also count the memories of each person we shop for. Replace the J.C. Penney spree with a penny for your thoughts. In addition to our busy to-do lists, let’s add a list of movies for a marathon with a loved one. As we light the menorah, let’s find a way to light up another person’s day or, while we’re being ambitious, one person for each candle. Rather than stumbling over the correct holiday greetings, let’s remember that we are all simply wishing one another a wonderful season.
As you distribute your cheer and gratitude, I implore you not to forget yourself in the process.
The Sunday after my Walmart spree, I walked by a stuffed animal display during a trip to Stop & Shop. On impulse, I grabbed the biggest stuffed dog at the top of the shelf. “I’m getting it,” I decided. My boyfriend smiled and replied, “Life’s too short, huh?” I laughed at my impulsivity when the bell chimed after scanning the price tag on my newest prize. I walked proudly out of the grocery store, stuffed dog held tightly under my arm, squeezed between noisy shopping bags. I was reminded of all the times I asked mom and dad for a treat at the store in my childhood and beam as I realize that I can do that for myself now. Something as simple as buying myself a toy — that’s what this whole post-grad thing is about, isn’t it? Spending time collecting these accomplishments.
And once I finish my Christmas shopping, I’ll add that one to the list…
Here’s to spending 2017 right!
[Photo by Julie Bloom.]