Barbie World + [whine]

Christmas Dollars and Sense

Once in awhile, even I must think pragmatically (and then blog about it).

I talked with my mom a few days ago about Christmases and gifts, and it really got me thinking.

Now, I like shopping for gifts a lot, and I like receiving gifts, but it's become less important as I've gotten older. In fact, it's sort of difficult to come up with a Christmas wish list these days. A big part of it is that I enjoy the season much more for it's other charms now -- family gatherings, an emphasis on charity and faith, nativity seasons and twinkling lights -- that sort of thing.

Norman gets me every time. "Christmas Homecoming"
But in the spirit of total honesty... the other, much smaller and much less fluffy reason it's hard to come up with a list of wants? Because much of what I now want is big big big -- a new (but still old) house, a second car, someone to pay off my college loans -- and these are things I obviously wouldn't and couldn't ask anyone else for. Well, except Kyle (that lucky guy) but I don't think he has any of those three surprises waiting for me this particular Christmas.

These days, I sometimes find myself considering Christmas in ways that would certainly warm my former microeconomics professor's heart, but probably wouldn't fly with Santa. I consider supply and demand, input vs. output. I realize now how incredibly expensive Christmas gets (if only I had elves to make these gifts!) I can't imagine what it's like for parents and grandparents.

Norman Rockwell's "The Discovery" -- looks like me adding up the Christmas budget.
My family tends to do Christmas big. Part of it is because yes, we "kids" still get gifts from Santa. Not sure I'll be receiving them this year, because I think even if you still believe in him as an adult, he might reason that once you're married, you're a smidge too old for the elves to be concerned with. But the other part is that when we were young, my parents didn't buy my brothers and I everything our little hearts desired throughout the year, so our birthdays and Christmas were really special.

Now we all make our own money, so none of us get that much delayed gratification. My brothers don't have a full-time salary like I do, but they also don't really have living expenses. None of us have a lot of money to burn, but we all have some extra for spending, and we spend throughout the year. They buy video games as soon as they come out. They pick up DVDs when they're browsing through the store. I purchase earrings and bracelets and scarves and books and clothes -- not all the time, but often enough.

Even Norman could be swayed by Christmas commercialism. "Plymouth Advertisement" Is nothing sacred?!
I think surprises are the best gifts now, because I always love what people pick out. It's much more fun. I'm sort of intrigued by the idea of ornaments and handmade gifts as Christmas presents too. I want to do Christmas gifts on a smaller scale someday, for the sake of everyone's bank accounts and for more of that spirit of the season.

But my youngest brother is a senior in high school, so we aren't quite ready to jump off the "gifts are a big part of Christmas" bandwagon just yet, because it would be seriously uncool to go all-out on Christmas throughout our childhood years and then leave him hanging when he's still really a kid. Or at least, I think it would be uncool. My greedy teenage self, had I been the youngest and my family suddenly decided they were all too old for tons of presents under the tree, would not have been very merry and festive. But probably Daniel is more mature.

Along those grumpy lines, I'm also so so so sick of the shopping frenzy and the commercials already -- especially the K-Mart/Wal-Mart/Best Buy one that says "Bring it, Santa" where the Mom stands and gloats because good Saint Nick can't cram any of his gifts into the stockings/beneath the tree since she's stuffed it so full already. These commercials are all so lame, and they kill my holiday buzz (momentarily). Talking about groaning tables and presents piled under the tree is one thing -- it sounds festive and fun. But placing an undisguised emphasis on quantity of gifts is totally gross.

Next Christmas, let's see if I can get anyone interested in giving and receiving ornaments. Or something crafty from me, which we'll kindly call abstract art. My parents and grandma might still appreciate that stuff (look, I made a hand print in a clay circle and baked it for you!), and they know my overly sentimental heart would love something they "made."

My brothers and husband might be harder to convince.

Oh, great. Something you "made." Thanks. WOMP WOMP.