If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know that Captain Carl and I are pretty strapped for cash these days. I don’t care what the politicians and polls say, the economy in our world is not recovering yet. I have a good job and the Captain is doing okay with his business, but we are just barely making ends meet. So he continues to job search and I continue to kick ass at work in the hopes of getting another pay raise and a promotion. And of course we still have Huey, who basically pays the Kiddo’s allowance with his rent each month.
I’m not going to complain about having less than other people. Mainly because we used to be the “other people” and we completely fucked it up by being arrogant and dumb about jobs and money. We’ve learned our lesson and now we’re just trying to hang on until we can pad the savings account again.
But in the meantime, the Christmas season has arrived. And damn, but it came faster this year than other years for some reason. I wasn’t prepared for it like I was last year. Last year I set aside a fair amount of cash for presents early on. I had most of my shopping done by the end of October. But not this year. This year, I completely put it off and now I’m paying for it. Well, our families are paying for it actually.
See, we just don’t have enough money to buy everyone nice presents. It’s just not possible. We now live credit card free, so we must have the money up front for everything we need. It’s a hard lifestyle when you are on a budget, especially after using credit for everything under the sun like we used to do. Sometimes we have to get creative, but so far we’ve made it work and I’m pretty proud of that.
Except it leaves very little for gifts. So we had to tell our families that gifts will be small. They understood, of course, but we still feel bad. I’ve shopped sales, something I’m really good at anyway, and have managed to find something for everyone. And we are making homemade candy to supplement our paltry offerings.
It’s not about how much you spend. It’s the thought that counts. Remember the real reason for the season.
That’s what I keep telling myself. And I’ve been quite proud of us, actually. Everyone will get something nice and it will be a heartfelt gift.
But then I talk to other people and hear about all the things they’ve bought over the weekend for their relatives. A laptop, a wool coat, a flat screen tv, an iPad 2...
And I start to feel like an asshole.
My stupid little gifts…a scarf, some lotion, a book…are now super lame and sad. They scream “Merry Christmas. We can’t afford to buy you anything awesome.” And now I want to call everyone and beg them to please please please not buy us anything expensive. Not because I don’t think they can afford it, but because it will make me feel bad when I open their gifts. I don’t want anyone to spend $100 on me when I can only spend $10 on them.
But it’s hard to tell your family that. Especially when you know they’ll just say “Oh, don’t worry! It makes me feel good to buy you things!”. And there’s just no Christmas-y way to say “Well it makes me feel like shit when you do.”
We’re tired of being “those relatives”. The ones that everyone knows are broke and can’t go on trips and can’t go out to eat every weekend and can’t buy the things they really want to give their family at Christmas. Not that it really matters. Because what’s most important is that our family is healthy and happy and blah blah blah.
Whatever. Maybe next year we will get rich and buy everyone an iPad3 and a 3D tv and then we can be all “Jesus is the reason for the season, but who cares because I’m totally wearing 3D glasses!”.
Giving Money to Strangers.
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