I am on a mission this Christmas. A mission to spend as little money as possible without resorting to buying everyone’s presents at Poundland.
For many years I cursed my stupid family – parents splitting up and Dad re-marrying, thus thrusting into my life another person I had to buy a present for, brother and sister both marrying and then having offspring, slowly increasing the amount of money I was forking out each December.
Last year I decided that I would be Scrooge. Much as I know it’s all about the giving and not the receiving my bank balance couldn’t take anymore and I rang my brother and sister up and said that I would buy for their children but not for them. They were happy for this to happen, and I should think so too – it’s bad enough being the youngest at times but I was starting to feel like I was being punished for not getting a ring on my finger and a bun in the oven. So that was four presents off the list – BOOM.
Lots of people were feeling the strain last year so most of my friends and I decided that we would knock the idea of gifts on the head and maybe just go out for a drink and be full of festive cheer instead. But still my Christmas present list seems ridiculously long – and don’t think I didn’t kick off about my brother’s decision to add to my gift list this year by having another baby – some people are so bloody selfish.
My problem is that I have this terrible habit of equating more presents with better presents. I might get someone something I know they’ll really like and maybe only costs £10 but then will be plagued with a conversation that goes a little like this:
Bad voice in head: Is that all you’re getting them?
Me: Well yeah, I mean I know that they’re going to really like it and that’s good isn’t it?
Bad voice in head: Well I guess but you haven’t really spent that much money have you, I mean they’ll look at it and go “That’s nice they got me something I wanted but she only spent £10. Bitch”
Me: Really? Yeah you’re probably right, I’ll get them something else as well...
And so my list of presents to buy grows more expansive and expensive.
It even extends to situations where a limit is set. For instance we have a Secret Santa going on this year with the Stitch and Bitch girls and there’s a £10 limit and I’ve spent my limit on one present. And it’s kind of tiny. It doesn’t look like a lot. And so the internal monologue begins:
Me: Hurrah I spent my pennies and I got something I know my Secret Santa recipient will like
Bad voice in head: Yeah....but it’s tiny, doesn’t look like much.
Me: Yeah it is tiny, what’s your point
Bad voice in head: What if they think you’ve just spent a fiver and pocketed the rest?
Me: Well I can’t hand it to them with a receipt telling them how much it is can I?
Bad voice in head: *silence*
Me: Well maybe I should get something else?
Thus negating the concept of Secret Santa and limit setting.
I don’t know why I do it to myself. I know it’s the thought that counts and not the amount of money you spend and the size of the present but there is a child that still lives within me who really seems to think that way. She bugs me.
At the end of the day I just need to get realistic, I want people to have a lovely Christmas and want to buy them all the things I think they would like but I have to be reasonable, I just cannot afford to do that and that doesn’t make me a bad person.
Take my brother’s newby for instance. I thought about what I could get her and list began to grow and grow, from outfits, to books, to rattles, to toys and it all started to get a bit out of control until I thought to myself. “You know what? She’s going to be 2 months old, she really doesn’t need very much” so I bought her a lovely soft little bunny rattle, some babygros in the sale at Pumpkin Patch and I’m making a little sampler.
And with every cross stitch and every sweep of the crochet hook this month and next I will repeat to myself on a loop – more presents and expensive presents do not equal good presents.