Christmas from another angle

Now while I wouldn’t call myself a Scrooge, I have never been a huge fan of the absolute over-the-top nature of North American Christmas.

Christmas is coming.

This fact is made obvious by the proliferation of Christmas-focussed advertising, Christmas lights popping up on neighbour’s lawns, and the bag full of Christmas ornaments my friend sent me home with the other day when she found out I had never had my own Christmas tree.

Now while I wouldn’t call myself a Scrooge, I have never been a huge fan of the absolute over-the-top nature of North American Christmas.

I find many people are overstressed, overspending, overeating and a little overwhelmed for most of the days leading up to Christmas.

I mostly try my hardest to avoid all of the above, with mixed results.

To me, Christmas should be about spending time doing the things you love with those you love, alongside celebrating according to your personal spiritual preference.

Unfortunately, I find I end up spending most of my Christmas holidays rushing around to fulfill all of my obligations, alternated with sitting around eating and visiting. These are not the things I love to do. Also, I almost never get to see my nieces and nephew for more than one short visit over the holidays, they are so busy with other family, which is always a bit disappointing because they are a big part of why I would spend Christmas in my hometown.

But the real issue seems to be a lot of people’s budgetary problems associated with the holidays.

From my perspective, spending many hundreds or thousands of dollars on Christmas gifts isn’t an option for me, and the travel costs and higher food-related costs are also a concern.

So I am always trying to figure out how to minimize my spending, and I work hard to do so.

I agonize over every gift, never wanting to give something people won’t want or use.

Not to mention the current global financial situation seems to suggest to me we should all try and spend a little less on disposable, imported goods, but instead perhaps keep our dollars spent over the holidayscloser to home.

So I thought I might just share some ideas about how I may hope to keep my costs down, or at least more reasonable for my budget and refocus my Christmas a little on what matters to me.

Last year, I gave large matted frames filled with photographs of my nieces and nephew I had taken over the past year to their grandparents and their parents.

This year, as I consider what I will do I came across some great suggestions online on how to make some great gifts for friends and family.

There was an amazing range of ideas, from those more crafty, to those less so.

There was an easy truffle recipe, how to make personalized mirrors, ceramic trivets and homemade cookie kits (dry ingredients in a jar, wrap with recipe instructions). For those who are perhaps less crafty, ideas include the “gift of experience” by giving hot air balloon rides or dance lessons, a gift of your time or a skill or a mixed CD.

Or you can give the gift of charity. One of my favourite gifts each year is when my parents donate to a family or a school in my name and give me a gift card describing what the money went towards. School supplies for students in developing countries perhaps, or micro-loans to women starting small businesses to feed their families perhaps.

Essentially, all you need is some time and a computer connected to the internet to google an idea that suits you.

But no matter how you decide to cross the names off your Christmas list, here’s to hoping you get to spend it with those you love doing what you love.

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