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Resisting holiday temptation. December 9, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. If you’re nostalgic, like me, even for Christmas decor and traditions that pre-date you (be they the 1850s or 1950s), this is a very dangerous time of year. If you love beautiful arts and crafts, or warm, snuggly sleepwear and cozy slippers, or bright sparkly objects, this is a very dangerous time of year. If you love winter-blooming plants, or bargains on indoor-fruiting plants, this is a very dangerous time of year. And if you have a weakness for luscious cheeses and nuts and candies and candied fruit and all else Christmasy, this is a very dangerous time of year.

At Christmastime, I’m one of those “one for them, and one for me” shoppers. “Aunt Martha would love this beautiful handblown ornament. And look at that snowglobe! I LOOOOVE snowglobes!!!” So Aunt Martha gets checked off the list, and somehow another box finds its way into the shopping bag. Or I’m mail-ordering my favorite cheeses and fudges to my list, and it seems like such a small thing to order some for me and our friend Ben as well.

Over the years, I’ve realized just how quickly these seemingly small purchases can add up, and just when you’re racking up bills on presents for your extended family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. I’ve also realized how little resistance I have against this particular kind of temptation. So I’ve come up with a self-protection policy to try to protect myself from sticker shock when the January credit card bill arrives:

* Stay away from stores. You can’t be seduced into buying something you’d never even have thought of if you don’t know it’s there. Do your Christmas shopping online, and go directly to the things you want to buy for your gift list. If you want to distribute gifts in person, have them mailed to you.

* Bring the voice of reason with you. I love attending local arts and crafts shows, especially over the holidays. But to keep myself in check, I go to them with OFB, who is sure to point out that I already have three snowglobes and a dozen beeswax candles and don’t need any more of them. (And he’s right.) I can still enjoy supporting local artists and craftsmen by buying presents for others. And I still get to see all the wonderful arts and crafts!

* Delete e-mail ads. My inbox fills up every day with holiday shopping solicitations, and most are from companies whose products I really like. Rather than opening them up and exposing myself to temptation, I delete them on sight. If I need to order something from one of them for someone on my list, I know where to find them. (Thanks, Google.)

Read catalogs like fantasy novels. Usually, I hate catalogs (except plant catalogs), but around the holidays, I love catalogs. We start getting all the special gift catalogs filled with wonderful decorations, nostalgic treats, and every kind of magical thing, not to mention all those irresistible food catalogs. I want everything. And I want to revel in the experience of looking at each thing and imagining that it was here in Hawk’s Haven. So at holiday time, I make catalogs my bedtime reading. Every night, I page through a catalog and enjoy it to the max. And then, the next morning, I put it away. Out of sight, out of mind. I get to enjoy the holiday catalog experience without the price tag attached.

Get out your decorations and look them over. If you love vintage and handmade ornaments and home decrations like I do, this season can be a minefield, especially if you enjoy going to old-time Christmas exhibits and specialty craft shows, or even antiques stores and shows. What harm could it do to buy a box, a bag, a bucketload of beautiful vintage ornaments, old-style handcarved ornaments, and the like? To keep this impulse in check, it helps to look at all the ornaments you already have—you know, the ones that have long since outgrown your tree. I find this really helps add some steel to my sagging willpower. And if I simply must try to find another ornament, you can find bags of them at Goodwill for $1 this time of year. Some of those bags contain a hidden treasure, and best of all, you can recycle the ones you don’t want right back to Goodwill.

These tactics have really cut down on my post-Christmas bills. And when it comes down to it, that’s the best Christmas present I could give myself.

‘Til next time,

Silence

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