theoretically, it’s just a cord…

Like us, our neighbors opted to not put up outside Christmas lights. They aren’t quite as outside-unfestive as we are though, as they have a huge light-up wreath on the front of their house. From dinner time to bedtime their wreath shines a beautiful blue-bright. It’s the sort of pretty that makes Christmas songs instantly pop into one’s head. 
I like that kind of pretty. 
During the day though, when the sun shines bright, and Christmas lights are (or at least should be) unplugged, our neighbor’s wreath has a fat, ugly cord that stretches from it’s circle, across the siding, and lands near the plug. 
Truth be told, it’s kind of tacky looking. (And the very reason my husband can’t seem to get me to agree to mount our television, even though we already have the bracket… but that’s a whole other story.) 
I got to thinking about how incredibly human AND society Christmas like that actually is. 
We stretch ourselves thin, skip utility bill payments and charge hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars worth of excess stuff- and love how beautiful it looks, shiny and bow-clad under our trimmed evergreens- but in the cold, harsh light of January we begin the year with ugly, tacky guilt. 
Is it worth it? 
I don’t know. While I really like their wreath in the evening, when the cold light of day brings that cord back into sight- I just want to draw my curtains tight and imagine a lovely landscape on the other side. 
Is it too much to ask that we have the gorgeous wreath AND no chord? 
No. It’s called batteries and/or running the wires through the wall. 
It can be done. It just takes some effort. Some time. Some planning. Maybe some research… 
 If you think I am bagging the whole “big, elaborate Christmas” thing, I am totally not. Just the whole idea that we have to wear ourselves thin and go into excessive amounts of debt for stuff. I don’t like it. I’ve been there. I have lived the life of shame that the fat ugly cord lives everyday. We’ve done it. Our family does not do that anymore, and honestly the reason was that sick, guilty feeling I felt when the bills rolled in. Christmas may have been fun, but I don’t want to spend most of the next year recovering from a holiday that should be about love, life, family, gratitude and generosity… 
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11 thoughts on “theoretically, it’s just a cord…

  1. We are so there with you! We've done the Cmas debt, too. Although, my husband's sick feeling in January was a little more felt than mine (he's our family financial compass, I just do the grunt work), I still hated it.I even almost posted something about it on Facebook. Something along the lines of "It's so much more fun to shop for Christmas when we've saved throughout the year and can pay cash." But I didn't…my filter just wouldn't let me :)The last few years, we've saved a bit here and there (I wish we were disciplined enough to save a little every month, but we usually put back larger sums as the months allow)and had a sum of money by Thanksgiving that we use. I try REALLY hard to stay within that budget and we pay cash for 99.8% of our Christmas. And no skipping utility bills, because if they cut off the electricity the lights won't work:). LOL!We also cut back on who we buy for and what we buy. Some people that used to get gifts, now get baked goods or homemade snacks. Honestly, I don't feel bad because we try to give and have a generous frame of mind year round and not just during the holidays. We also cut back on how much we buy. Sometimes Honey and I don't get much at Christmas. It's OK, if we really want something during the year, and it's that important, we usually figure out a way to get it.I would much rather sit back and enjoy January than overspend in December.

  2. I was, fortunately, given a Dave Ramsey book just before I moved out of my parents' house 10 years ago. While I'm not a kool-aid drinker by any means, that introduction to good financial sense was such a great influence on my adult life. So, I've never done the whole go-into-debt-for-presents thing. Even still, I see how easy it can be to get caught up in the consumer aspects. I mean, I still get the catalogs, and sometimes, I sit down and look through them, which I immediately regret because it brings out all the greed in me!I'm glad that I was able to have the principle of spending cash and not having credit cards, and it's always cool to hear about others who are doing the same. :)

  3. There is, i firmly believe, an agenda to provoke our debt and strip us (in doing so) of our independence… I know you could put a spiritual metaphor on it, but honestly I believe it's more government driven… At any rate, not to go all Conspiracy Theory, but the older I get- the less "caught up" I get in that stuff… Sarah, that's exactly what I want for my kids. for them to be in adulthood with a good idea of what to do responsibly. Because Chw and I did NOT have that… And it's taken us FOREVER to even start figuring it out.

  4. UGH, so true!!! I am with you and thankfully this year with hubs in college there won't be any overindulgences here in MO, now MI on the other hand is another story….a story of spoiling grandkids with too many presents and stretching ourselves thin to see every last person in the family & friends we can possibly see. It's a strong love/hate relationship……good post, dear friend

  5. Angie…we struggle with that. One set of grandparents is very frugal and was "cash only" before "cash only" was cool. The other set of grandparents grew up with NOTHING, so now they feel like it's OK to have EVERYTHING. I think that is the most stressful thing about the holidays for me…figuring out what to do with two such extreme attitudes.

  6. Since we're having a conversation about this, I would love to hear your opinions.I sit down with my kids and help them make a Christmas list. Then as family asks for ideas about what to get them, I choose a couple of things from the list and give them those suggestions.My 12 yo son has asked for Under Armor brand underwear. On a good day they are $20 a pair…yes PER PAIR. We do not buy these on any other normal day, but I think it's OK for him to put them on his Christmas list…even if he only gets one pair.My hubby, on the other hand, has done everything but refuse him the wish. He thinks it's dumb to spend $20 on one pair of underwear. (It's underwear, for crying out loud!) But I say, so what?! It's Christmas and that is what he wants. What if his uncle, who usually spends about $20 on each of my kids, wants to buy it for him, or get him a gift card so he can go buy it? Why not?Thoughts?

  7. Catalogs are of the devil. We avoid most of them, but this Christmas I did hand over a PBTeen catalog to Genny and allow her to circle things she thought would be fun to get. Mostly, I confess, she circled the boys…

  8. We are the exact opposite, in dilemmas. We have one set of grandparents who only bought for Genny, but refused to buy for Lucas and Amanda… Even what they bought Genny though, was $5-10 junk while she had to watch her cousins open gifts (from the same grandparents) that cost hundreds of dollars. VERY difficult. The other side of the family would tend to borrow money from us, to shop for our kids, until we finally put a hault to it. We got caught in the trap of overcompensating so as not to "Scar" the kids. Thankfully, we've gotten over that.

  9. I personally think it's fine. The more you tell a kid they are excessive to want to splurge on something so silly, the more likely they are to want it more. It's Christmas. if one of the best things he can think to put on his list is underwear, than for whatever reason it must mean a lot to him. When I was a kid, my mom made it a point to pick out the clothes I owned. She never took into consideration the "cool" clothes, or the things I personally liked. I was teased A LOT for this. After I was at the group home, and new clothes were not a reality, this became something even more important. As a parent, I adapted the mentality of taking my kids interests into consideration. When we clothes shop for school, or whatever, Genny is old enough that I give her the $ amount. we go through her clothes together, and I point out that she may need jeans, or sneakers… but then we both shop and see what she can get with her budget. we've told her "if we give you $200 for the semester/school year and you choose to buy a $90 sweater and an $80 pair of jeans- you have to live with that." So far, she is way more thoughtful/frugal than I ever would have thought… BUT she has things that are important to her, whatever the silly reason. She splurges on cute underwear ($7 a pair) and Hollister t-shirts. I won't question why…

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