Hol­i­day spend­ing

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - An­nie Lane

Christ­mas used to be a time that I en­joyed. I have al­ways en­joyed spend­ing time with sib­lings and cousins who live in other cities and catch­ing up with them. Over the years, our fam­i­lies have grown. Our older chil­dren have grown, and they have chil­dren of their own. Some of the younger kids have sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers who al­ways join in with the fam­ily cel­e­bra­tions.

My fam­ily’s gift-giv­ing tra­di­tion is that we have a Kriss Kringle type of ex­change for the adults and we all buy gifts for the chil­dren. In my case, I need to buy gifts for nearly 20 chil­dren/spouses/sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers. I am on a lim­ited bud­get and hon­estly can­not af­ford to buy gifts for ev­ery­one, yet I still do be­cause I am re­luc­tant to say any­thing about it. Af­ter all, Christ­mas only hap­pens once a year, and I don’t want to ap­pear to be a Scrooge.

Sum­mer is barely over, and I am al­ready dread­ing De­cem­ber. I would love to get through a hol­i­day sea­son with­out get­ting into a lot of debt. Any ideas would be much ap­pre­ci­ated. — Broke but Still Spend­ing Ouch. My wal­let hurts just read­ing this. It’s won­der­ful your fam­ily mem­bers are all so gen­er­ous and ap­pre­ci­ate the joy of gift giv­ing, but Christ­mas shouldn’t put you un­der an avalanche of debt.

I have a feel­ing you’re not the only one in your fam­ily who feels this way, so try talk­ing to your sib­lings and cousins. You men­tioned that some of the younger kids bring sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers. If they’re old enough to be dat­ing, they’re old enough to get a gift for a rel­a­tive. You could in­clude them in the se­cret Santa. That way, ev­ery­one spends less money and can spend more time pick­ing out one thought­ful gift.

If your fam­ily is re­sis­tant to chang­ing up the tra­di­tion, you can at least work on sim­pli­fy­ing the process and re­duc­ing the cost for your­self. One op­tion is to pick a uni­form gift, one you give to ev­ery­one. For in­stance, you might have ev­ery­one send you a fa­vorite dessert recipe, af­ter which you com­pile them into a fam­ily cook­book with pho­tos and at­tri­bu­tion and print out book­lets. You’ll be giv­ing peo­ple a gift that’s unique to your fam­ily and that they can use for years to come.

This is about the per­son who wrote about a so­cial group that has potlucks where one mem­ber al­ways takes more than his share, get­ting in line first, load­ing his plate, gob­bling up his food and then get­ting in line again. Then he makes sure he’s at the end of the line af­ter ev­ery­one else is done, get­ting another plate so he can fin­ish up what’s left. (I as­sume he’s the only one who gets sec­onds and thirds.) The folks have asked him nicely on sev­eral oc­ca­sions to not go back for more un­til ev­ery­one has had a chance to get a plate, but he doesn’t lis­ten.

I would tell the rest of the group to give him one more chance. Then I would tell him that if he con­tin­ues his rude be­hav­ior, he will be ex­cluded from the group. Un­less he has a lot of other re­deem­ing qual­i­ties that make him so­cially de­sir­able, I can’t think of why they would put up with his rude and glut­tonous be­hav­ior.

That’s just my take. I am a se­nior cit­i­zen, and I may not be so tol­er­ant of rude be­hav­ior as younger peo­ple.

It’s won­der­ful your fam­ily mem­bers are all so gen­er­ous and ap­pre­ci­ate the joy of gift giv­ing, but Christ­mas shouldn’t put you un­der an avalanche of debt.

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