Oh look. Another holiday in the rearview mirror, Christmas on the horizon, four sparkly-eyed Denizens who by their very unselfish and forgiving natures make the idea of disappointing them unthinkable, and I’m on a “just opened a new business” kind of budget.
So! Game plan time! The question is simple: How to get through this festive season without going into the red.
The first thing I’m doing is opening up my wallet and taking out every last credit card. Believe it or not, it is possible to stagger through a day without one.
The second thing is, I’ll be taking a cash draw at the beginning of the week. That cash is for everything that doesn’t involve an online payment or automatic charge. Groceries, gasoline, gift buying, taking the kids places, everything.
Cash – you know, actual tens and twenties, that stuff? – has an amazing power. It can really force you to reorganize your priorities, when you know that what you hold in your hand is it. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
If you blow through your stash by Thursday, say goodbye to those weekend plans, friend.
Thus far, I have bought precisely one (1) present for the kids. I love the rhyme eclair shared a couple weeks ago…
Something they want
something they need
something to wear
and something to read
…and I’m sticking to it. Unfortunately, I’m still short three wants, four needs, four wearables and four books. Ahem. Well. Nice time to be starting a cash-only accounting method, huh?
But, I do love me a challenge.
So! Each week I will be giving myself a very generous and seasonally adjusted $240 for the buying of Christmas wants, needs, wears and reads, as well as the mundane, routine groceries, gasoline, and all the other etceteras of daily life in these United States.
What I hope to accomplish isn’t so much a trimming down of Christmas as keeping myself in check during a very frustrating and emotionally simmering time. The job market remains tighter than my purse strings, I’m still without my own work to do, we’re all just waiting-waiting-waiting. There is every danger that a bored, frustrated Tama who was just told for the umpteenth time that, while she is exactly what the employer was hoping and dreaming of finding, she is not going to get the job, is going to wander into Big Lots one day while her squirrel-mind is bent on hoarding against a hard winter to come and come home with yes, really, some 8’ or bigger lawn-frackin-ornament with its own generator and lights and holy Moses, what was I thinking?!
Well. What I would have been thinking would be something like this. We’ve worked long and hard, and it is not fair that “everybody else” (oooh boy, here it comes) has Christmas Spirit stuff bedecking their halls while our house looks like (oh yeah, it is on now, baby!) some kind of semi-abandoned Scrooge Lives Here place. We’re both college educated, we both work in high tech arenas where big salaries are normal, surely we deserve and/or can afford a few little things, right?
Next thing I know, I’m backing up a truckload of jingling whatnots we now “deserve” to store for 330 days a year in anticipation of The Season. Nice.
And then I’ll start in with just a few “little” things for the Denizens and before I know it, I’m up until midnight on Christmas eve wrapping crap they don’t want or need because I am not a loser!
Yeah. The Care Bears DVD proves that, for sure. Ahem.
There are times when you have to just know yourself. And I know that even in the best of years, I get somewhat, um, pensive in the wintertime. I have a long, convoluted theory involving sunlight, lack of same, and wearing of long sleeves all the time around it, but the upshot is, I go through “winter blues.”
And no, knowing that it is common doesn’t make it a bit better. I get testier than a bear that should be hibernating, and as irrational as a squirrel when it comes to hoarding. Oh yes, I hoard things through the winter. You slap a sale sign on it, I’ll probably toddle along and pick up a box or three within minutes. Doesn’t have to be something I need, want or even like…if I’ve got an empty inch of space at home, I’ll buy something to cram into it.
The worst part is the food. I buy food like this is the last opportunity, ever to buy it. That’s right, after this sale, I will be forced to survive by wild-crafting along the Delta. Sigh.
Yarn, clothes, food-food-food, books…there’s no real rhyme or reason. I just feel the need to pack my Den with stuff. It doesn’t “make me happy,” in fact it just makes me more anxious…but I do it anyway.
Unless I stop myself, look myself in the eye and say, FIRMLY, “Tama. Honey. You’re doing That Thing again. Knock it off.”
In good years, I can do that. Even in “eh” years, I can keep myself mostly in check.
This, though, has been and continues to be a very bad year. Between the financial stuff and the emotional stuff, and now it is getting cold and the sunlight is getting weaker by the minute (I’m telling you, California Girl over here needs her five-ten minutes of direct, more than 5% of skin exposed sun-cuddling at least a couple times a week)…I’m really worried that I’m going to actually break the hinges on the freezer stuffing it with on-sale stuff, or overload the upper story of the house with all the new toys I felt I just had to get, seeing as how they were 50 to 70% off and all…
It’s just better for all concerned if I ensure any damage done is limited to cash actually on hand, right this minute.
In slow doses, so I don’t blow the entire wad in a single mad romp through Goodwill.
And I do believe I will want to start with a nice weekly menu and a carefully controlled trip to the supermarket, if needed.
Grandpa Jason and Grandpa Chad
1 day ago