Friday, November 23, 2007

Back in black!

I am NOT celebrating Black Friday! (Actually, most people, excluding retailers, should call this "Red Friday." Or, everyone could call it "Green Friday.") Oh, I may go to the little gift store in Pleasant View & sample some of their hot apple cider. I may run through the little antique store there in town & see what they have. But at 4 AM I was snoozing in my warm, cozy bed! I liked what Pamela said about the things she didn't know she wanted...or needed...or just had to have. It's 5:30 AM where she is. I wonder if she's up yet?

After reading "Affluenza" I am just so annoyed with the whole commercial Christmas scene anyway. The crowds of people knocking each other down, the long lines & packed aisles, the shelves stripped bare of the very items I came to get (because I didn't beat people out of my way to get there first) - that stuff is straight from Satan. WWJD? Would Jesus knock somebody down to get an Island Barbie playset? We do all this to celebrate His birthday...?????!!!!!

Now, please don't get me confused with some radical who will protest by not spending a dime on anyone because that is so not true. I will probably spend in the neighborhood of $1200 for gifts for people. I have actually already spent around $400 of that. I will probably receive somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 for gifts for myself. Of course, Randy & my kids will get a lot too, so it's probably a pretty fair trade. It just seems like a lot out of my pocket.

If I had it my way, I'd cut my Christmas spending by a good two-thirds. Randy & I don't really get each other much, usually around $20 worth or something. We do spend a lot on the kids, but, we are very open with them now that they're older. I find it a lot easier to give them money & let them decide how to spend it. I like giving small thoughtful gifts too. For our parents, we usually try to be very generous too.

In general, we spend a lot less on his family than mine, simply because there are more people in mine. Now, this is not REALLY true because he has a lot more relatives than I do. We just don't exchange gifts with his three aunts, two uncles, all the associated aunts & uncles by marriage, or his eleven cousins & their spouses, or their children (I think there are 8 of them). We play Bingo on Thanksgiving for prizes we bring to exchange. That's just his mother's side - I really, truly have no idea how many cousins he has on his dad's side. His dad was one of ten kids.

Randy has a mom & a sister with a husband & two kids, one with a fiancee & soon-to-be stepson. I have a mom, a dad, a stepmother, two brothers, a sister-in-law, a niece, a nephew, a brother's girlfriend, & a grandfather. (Last year, I had a grandmother too.) I am not counting my stepmother's daughter, son, two granddaughters, parents, grandmother, brother, sister, in-laws, aunt, uncles, & nieces & nephews, the number of whom I have long since lost count. I don't exchange gifts with them. I used to give gifts to my stepbrother & stepsister, but now I just give to my step-nieces, because they are just little kids. And, we have - I have - several additional relatives who evidently have a lot of money, & for them to give all their great-nieces & nephews & cousins & the like gifts ranging from $10 to $40 is no big deal. For me, 7 cousins once removed plus their 6 parents plus their 2 grandparents plus all the others mentioned before - well, that adds up when you can barely hold your head above water. I tried not giving one year, thinking they would quit. No. So, we buy, they buy.

I feel compelled to share the fact that we see them once a year. Maybe twice, if someone gets sick or dies. I have other aunts, uncles & cousins who I do see & talk to more often (or at least I did while Granny was alive) but we haven't exchanged gifts in years.

For the record, I spent more on the distant relatives this year than I usually do. I didn't spend a lot per kid, but for the grownups, I bought things that meant something to me & I think will mean something to them as well.

I feel like complaining about this makes me sound really greedy. I really don't mind giving to all these people (though it seems a bit ridiculous to continue trading with the ones we only see once a year) but I wonder just how much of my debt that I struggle with year round for what seems like forever came from gifts I HAD to buy to keep the Santa myth going...& gifts I HAD to buy for people because I knew they were buying something for me.

Next year will hopefully be different & by that I mean, better. I restarted my Christmas Club account recently, so I shouldn't have that "OH MY GOSH!!! WHERE AM I GOING TO GET THE MONEY FOR THAT???" moment next year. I hope not, anyway. I am working so much more, surely we will manage to do better.

I may put up the tree today. Rachel got up early & made us some "Butter Braid." The choir sold them a month or so ago, so I bought two. Rachel fixed the first one a day or two after we got them. Today she fixed blueberry cream cheese. Yummmmm!!! I have another one ordered from a co-worker.

We went to Dover yesterday for Thanksgiving (where we played Bingo). We had a lot to eat there too! I didn't eat breakfast, which is unusual for me. Well, on the way down there I had a "Payday" candy bar, so that I wouldn't make a pig of myself. I didn't eat a huge dinner either, just a little cottage cheese & then some hot chocolate later. It's too bad I don't often have time for a nice lunch (& siesta to follow) during the workweek. That's usually the way I eat on Sundays. Late suppers don't go well with early mornings. They probably contribute to larger waistlines too.

Well, it's past nine now so I need to get busy. Can't sit here all day snoozing & goofing off.

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