There are lots of bloggers talking about Christmas now, so I thought I might as well stick my twopennorth in and have my say too!
I'm all for frugality at Christmas, but what I am not up for is meanness - we all know that there is a difference. There is a huge difference between deciding not to be sucked in to the whole Christmas spending spree mentality, of have-it-now-and-pay-next-year, the advertising agencies who want us to spend, spend, spend, satisfying imagined wants and needs and the opposite, which for me, is carefully considered purchases that might benefit a charity or a cause in some way, and be relevant to the person for whom the gift is intended. A home made gift is often appreciated and welcomed, as much for the thought and effort as for the actual gift.
So what will Christmas in the Fens look like?
Our faithful old tree from 1992 will come out of the garage again, and be decorated with the collection of red, silver, gold and green baubles and bits that we have collected over the years. No need for any spending in that department at all. It looked lovely last year, just as it did back in 2008.
The "special" food will be limited to Christmas Day and probably Boxing Day, when traditionally we have UJ and the FH's cousins here for lunch and/or tea. Christmassy food will be mostly home made but that which is bought will be in sensible amounts, and not enough to feed a small army! I am looking forward to getting the cakes made this week, and then I may well move on to making some mincemeat for the pies.
Gifts will be restrained this year in that the girls are only expecting token presents in their stockings as they have had their main presents already for their birthdays [Nintendo 3DS] which they understood would be birthday and Christmas gifts. I will enjoy finding some small and fun items to stuff their stockings with - girly items like nail varnishes, as well as stationery, toiletries, socks and books, perhaps....
Gifts for people outside the immediate family are fairly well controlled - usually just for children and older people! I have a list, and I have already sourced a few items on the list. I have plans for the others, and I am waiting until I see a bargain when I am out and about before I make the purchases. Older people are easier than children in that I know they will appreciate home made food goodies, whereas children are perhaps a little more challenging for me.
Christmas for us is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, and with me helping to take the service at church on the 23rd, and completely in charge of the Christmas morning service, I will be spending time preparing for those. Thoughts will be given and invitations issued to some of the people we know who will be alone over the period, and perhaps they will join us for tea one day, or we will visit them with some gifts of home made cakes, or mince pies. Christmas can be a horrible time for people who have no relatives locally and then they find that all their usual social activities close down for a week or more in the holidays and their loneliness is doubled.
Christmas is also about spending time together as a family and doing things together - dragging the EFG away from her homework and stuff in her bedroom and encouraging her to spend some time downstairs for a while now and again, getting the FH and UJ engrossed in the new Christmas jigsaw, which is a tradition here, and enjoying some time without outside commitments!
There will be no overdraft, and no massive credit card bills to remind us of the festive season long into 2013, and I will enjoy spending a few hours with the finances over the holiday working out the budgets and financial goals for 2013. I will be making my usual donation to the Salvation Army, in recognition of the amazing work that they do for the homeless, the elderly and those in need.
Our local towns put up Christmas lights for the season, and it is a particular joy to have a late afternoon stroll through them to see the lights shining. We never go to the switching on ceremonies, though, as they are festivals of consumerism with stalls and food stands everywhere, with the streets heaving with people and it is too much of a hassle to be a pleasure!
(image from timeout.com)
I post a few Christmas cards to friends and relatives who I am not likely to see at Christmas, but most other people get one at church, at school or just whenever I see them before the big day. I will write them and then keep them in the car, so that I can hand-deliver them whenever we are out and about. The price of stamps has made sending too many cards prohibitive this year, and I can see many more people turning to the internet to send their good wishes at Christmas.
Those are my thoughts on our plans for Christmas - I have enjoyed reading other blogs and getting ideas and inspirations too, so I may share some links in the days ahead.