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    Frugal Moment: Planning for Christmas

    December 21, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    I know, I know. It is a bit late to write about “planning” for Christmas since Christmas is only a few short days away, meaning that most of what is done in this time period is often called “last minute.” But my mom told me a story a few days ago I couldn’t resist reflecting on publicly. Hopefully, she doesn’t mind!

    Actually, I don’t even know if I can say it is a story. It’s very simple, really: She and my father once knew a family who claimed they didn’t have enough to buy their children Christmas presents. However, they unfailingly gave their children something they needed in the weeks preceding Christmas {new socks, gloves, pants, etc.}.

    As an aside, I think I will mention that I think folks should quit buying things for themselves in October or November. More than once, I have purchased something “perfect” for someone, only to have them buy it for themselves before Christmas!

    Anyhow, my real point is that having a bit of foresight comes in handy for one with lesser means. Even if one “cannot afford” gifts, one must admit that there is something one plans to buy for the child in the next two or three months. I do this for Christmas all the time. This year, for instance, it was easy to see that both girls will be needing warm pants before winter is over. They probably could have used them the past two weeks, but it is worth it to save them and make them special by wrapping them up and giving them for Christmas.

    One can debate about whether it is wiser to, for instance, buy the pants new, or instead buy them second-hand. That is not the point of this post.

    The point of this post is that children can be given something if one only thinks hard enough.

    Fill a stocking with homemade cookies. Add in those socks and undies that they were going to need by spring anyhow. Small, newly potty-trained children get a kick out of receiving new underwear! Does Baby need a sippy cup of her own? Wrap it up for Christmas!

    I remember reading a blog post last year where, in the comments section, the moms were debating over giving their children necessities for the holidays. There was a bit of waxing eloquent over the luxuries of God, how He is so generous with us and gives us special gifts and we should do this for our children at Christmas.

    In one sense, I agree. But as I read it, I couldn’t help but think that the women engaged in this discussion had no idea what it is like to be poor. And I’m not saying that I think I have experienced true poverty, because I don’t think I have.

    I wanted to tell the people in the discussion to go read Little Women. These girls were given the luxury of oranges for Christmas.

    To the poor, the necessities feel like luxuries. Why not wrap them up?

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  • Reply Kristie January 1, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    I have always loved useful gifts! This Christmas one of my favorite gifts was a little jar of jewelry cleaner. (Mine went bad almost a year ago, and my ring was, well, scary!) Another favorite anniversary gift was a package of microwavable sock warmers. I use them almost every day. Not your traditional anniversary gift, but they remind me (daily) how well my husband knows me. =)

  • Reply Brandy December 22, 2007 at 3:12 am

    I like that tradition! I’d incorporate it, except that, with Great Granddad’s orange tree regularly exploding before Christmas, I fear it’d be anticlimatic. Perhaps if I turned the oranges into a sweet treat, that would help. Something to think about…

    I appreciate your angle on this. 🙂 I like practical gifts, too. In fact, if someone is able to give me a practical gift just by watching my life and seeing something that I need (I have a friend that is particularly good at this), it means a lot to me. Sometimes, practical gifts are more personal than anything…

    (Welcome to Afterthoughts, by the way.:)

  • Reply Jeana December 22, 2007 at 1:22 am

    I agree! I like practical gifts. One year when my husband asked for Christmas ideas I told him a few tools I would like for the kitchen. He didn’t like that idea; he said those were things I was using for our family and they shouldn’t count as Christmas gifts, we should get them. But I pointed out that we couldn’t afford to just get them. Christmas is one time that we have money set aside (from us and from parents and grandparents) to spend on extras. Having a well-outfitted kitchen makes me very happy and keeps giving to our whole family all year long. I much prefer getting practical things at Christmas to getting frivolous things and continuing to do without the practical things I need.
    (I know that’s not exactly what you were referring to, but it’s another angle I thought I would share.)

  • Reply rebecca December 21, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    In the MPL’s family, oranges were a tradition in the kids stockings every year. I always try to remember to have an orange to slip into his stocking. L is getting (among other things) new sippy cups and a couple of onesies that I bought a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t thinking about Christmas when I bought them, but realized how close Christmas was once I got them home.

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