This great post at Messy Money inspired me to put down a few holiday-related thoughts.
I used to love Christmas — the tree, the gifts, the decorating, did I mention the gifts…. But I’ve actually been struggling with it for a while now. My mom (who I adore) wants to do a ton of decorating, but I just don’t usually have the energy for it; the amount she wants to do doesn’t seem worthwhile. I wish we had one box of ornaments and a creche, you know?
On top of that, since it’s the one time of year my brother and I are home together, there are usually a million social activities scheduled — there have been years when we’ve either had people over for dinner, or gone out to someone else’s, every night for a week. As I get a little older and my friends start to have kids I understand better why this has to happen and am more motivated to be cheerful about it (when I’m in my sixties, I definitely will really want to see my friends’ kids in their thirties) but for an introvert like me, it’s just a lot.
Christmas also makes me feel kind of adrift and out of sync. I’m the most seriously religious person in either my immediate and extended family or our extended friend group in my home town. By a LOT. For almost everyone, it’s a mostly secular holiday. My mom and brother do want to go to church, but I still feel weird. Easter is usually much better for me since I don’t go home for it; I get to spend it with people who I’m more in tune with, religiously speaking. (Let me be clear, I love all the people I get to see when I’m home at Christmas — it just feels bizarre since I feel like I ought to be having a spiritual experience but I never am because the atmosphere is so secular. If it wouldn’t hurt my mom’s feelings so much–she loves Christmas stuff–I’d say let’s just do a trip home in August and see all these people and forget about Christmas!)
Plus, since this is a PF blog: money. I buy very few gifts, generally. Dad, mom, brother, brother’s wife, a couple of friends, two godchildren. Some years I’ve sent cards to a greatly expanded list, but this is not going to be one of those years; just don’t have the energy. I have a book for my brother already, and I’ll probably spend $100 on a gift certificate to a restaurant for my parents, who really don’t need any more stuff. My godson is too little for gifts (he’s just over a year) and my goddaughter is getting an Advent calendar next week when I visit them, plus she’ll get a birthday present from me in January (probably a book); I think that’s enough. That leaves my two friends and my sister-in-law; need to look for some pretty earrings or something, and I think then I can call it a day on presents. But this still seems like a bit of a stretch, somehow. I so hope I can get through to next December with substantially fuller finances and the ability to do some nicer gifts without pushing. That’s the one part of the holiday I genuinely like — I totally enjoy shopping for gifts and I’d like to be able to send them to more people — I just want to be able to do it without feeling like I’m then going to be paying down my credit card for the next four months!