The gift that keeps on (not) giving

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Look, I don’t want to alarm anyone, but last week was Thanksgiving.
How did that happen?
It seems like only yesterday, I was first perusing the Christmas holiday decor alongside the Fourth of July merchandise. What this insidious passing of time says, is that Christmas is less than four weeks away.
Making a list. Last night, I sat down to write out a list of what I’ll be getting everybody. This lasted until I eventually used up enough paper to deforest Canada and now I’m completely at a loss.
I love the holidays. I love everything about them.
What I don’t love is gifting decisions. Year in and year out without fail, the media will delight in telling us how the “average” American family will spend the equivalent of the price of a decent vacation (out of state and not involving any truck stop dining) on holiday shopping.
Frankly, the thought of that made me kind of nauseated. Here at home, we don’t put ourselves in debt over it as we avoid using credit cards the way sane people avoid Michael Jackson music.
That said, even with a firm dedication to being frugal, it’s hard not to want to spend great gobs of money giving the people you love everything they want, could want, or might dream of wanting in the future even if they are not yet aware that they want it.
That said, it would also be nice to actually have groceries, heat and college funds for the children, too.
Budget. Accordingly, I’ve made the decision to try to take it easy this Christmas. I’ve written up a reasonable Christmas budget and I’m determined to stick to it.
Granted, I’ve said this before in the past and not done it because as Christmas gets closer, I go into a pine and flocking-induced trance and just continue buying.
So, whether it will stick or not remains to be seen. I really may have no choice, though, since I’m completely clueless on what to get anybody. Except for myself, of course (hint: I would not be offended at, say, a new dishwasher, Santa. I have no issue with practical gifts).
What? That doesn’t stay within my “reasonable budget” plan? Well, then forget it. That whole budget idea was the stupidest idea I’ve ever had. A new dishwasher is much more important than groceries and heat. Get a clue St. Nick!
That notwithstanding, in the interest of the spirit of giving (and the spirit of not having the bank seize my checking account for insufficient funds), I have committed to a “sensible” holiday budget.
Homemade. Much has been said about homemade gifts. Unfortunately, I don’t really possess a crafty side, and thus my only talent is pretty much writing about myself (and my complete lack of craftiness).
Thus, unless I write one all-encompassing column that somehow stealthily convinces each and every person I care for that it is all about them – that’s probably not going to fly gift-wise.
Somehow, saying “I made this just for YOU and, um, a few thousand others” lacks in the “tugging on the heartstrings” department. Of course, there is always the lure of home BAKED treats. Now we’re on to something! Who doesn’t like a nice fruitcake?
Oh, that’s right, no one likes a nice fruitcake. Ever. My baking prowess runs to the microwave melted marshmallow and rice cereal variety anyway.
On the upside, we often hear that “it’s the thought that counts.” Thus, when I hand out my little balls of gooey crisp rice goodness, the real gift is that my kids are going to have a fighting chance of having heat and eventually affording college. You’re helping by not receiving a better, more elaborate, gift.
Yes, don’t say it, I know exactly what you’re thinking! You’re welcome!
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt loves candy canes – and credit limits. She welcomes comments c/o lifeoutloud@comcast.net; http://userweb.epohi.com/~kseabolt; or P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460.)

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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