Thursday, December 1, 2011

Keeping Christmas simple, part one.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, and despite this rocky economy, people seem to have money in their pockets, or at the very least a balance on their credit cards. Because as you may have heard, this holiday shopping season has begun with vigor (

Right: me (left) and my sister, posing for our family Christmas card in 1964, each in our own way. Note the matching outfits.

Despite the direction I've turned in recent years, I was raised on retail, especially during the holiday season. My parents were devout Lutherans way back then, and my mom was a seasoned shopper. She was crazy about Christmas, primarily because the season signified the birth of Jesus.

And because the holiday season is a time for giving, it gave her a great excuse to go shopping.

My sister and I received lavish and abundant Christmas gifts well into our 30s. Each gift was chosen with care. It was obvious that many miles were traveled in search of what she'd intuited (usually with Kreskin-like accuracy) that we'd want. And she was usually right.

Her mobility waned the Christmas before my mom died, but her enthusiasm for gifting was still in high gear. She couldn't afford to spend energy walking through malls and big box stores.

So the last Christmas my mom was on this crazy planet, my sister and I each received one gift.

We each received a box filled with gift cards from every store we frequented. She and my dad drove all over the city collecting gift cards for my sister and me.

That box of cards, filled with the intention of shopping, complete with the knowledge of what I really  liked, was the best present I've ever received.

Because it took effort. Time. Knowledge. Intuition.

And money.

Hopefully, I have the intuition. I definitely have the energy. But I don't necessarily have the financial resources my parents had.

But meaningful giving can be done on a budget. Despite the early shopping modeling I received from my mom, I've realized that everyone can be appropriately gifted without attending a Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale. Everyone can get what they want without going in the red.

And I'll go into the crafty world of artful giving next time.

But for now, I pay a bit of an homage to my mom. She was a shopper. She was a giver, and she loved All Things Christmas.

As an added bonus, she had deep pockets.

For those of us who don't (read: most of us), I'll chat soon about living richly during difficult times.

It's possible.

All it takes is a bit of a paradigm shift.

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