I don’t know of many people who don’t love Christmas time. This time of year, believers remember the birth of our Savior and celebrate by giving gifts to others, just like the wise men brought gifts of frankincense, mirth, and gold to baby Jesus. And non-believers….hmmm….well, I don’t know why non-believers celebrate Christmas, but I do know they love this time of year as much as we do like to buy and exchange gifts too.
Everyone celebrates Christmas time. Christians. Non-believers. But especially retailers. Yep, the most celebrated time of the year is also the most critical time of the year to stores and retailers, as it means there is a lot of opportunities to make a lot of money. According to an article on USAToday.com , customers are projected to spend over $1.1 trillion this time of year! While we customers are thinking about Santa’s red sleighs and candy canes, retailers are thinking about the “green” customers are going to spend at their stores or on-line. That is why internet sales and holiday specials start so early — businesses want to give you plenty of opportunities to spend your money. And there is nothing ethically wrong with that. It’s just business.
Nowadays, if you haven’t started your Christmas shopping by the beginning of December, you’re behind! Black Friday weekend sales are over, and Cyber, Monday One-Day opportunities, has passed. So, if you missed it, what are you going to do? The first thing you need to do is relax. There is still plenty of time. Secondly, you need to know what you are willing to spend on Christmas gifts this year. And once you’ve come to that number, you need to be resolved not to spend more than that amount. Developing a plan will help (calm down, I didn’t say a budget). Next, ask yourself some hard questions. Like…
“Does it make sense for me to spend this much money on Christmas, given my financial situation?”
“If I spend this much money on gifts, what is it going to cost me later?”
“If I spend this much money on Christmas, will I have any trouble paying my bills?”
If there is any hesitation to truthfully answering these questions, you might need to reduce the amount you plan on spending. I know everybody wants to give gifts, and retailers are more than happy to help you with that, but you have to know your limitations. Maybe this year, you will need to give more cards than gifts. Or perhaps all you can give this year are text messages! That’s OK!
Don’t let the fear of people’s potential reactions make you do something you will regret later. Sometimes we let ourselves get carried away with silly fears and make bad choices. We worry ourselves with thoughts of how others will feel if we can’t get them the gift we think they are expecting. We fear our failure to meet their expectations will somehow damage the relationship. But if it does, what does that say about the relationship in the first place? And when it comes to children, did you know not one kid in history was emotionally damaged because they didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas? Nope. Not one (trust me, I researched it). Kids are pretty resilient. They’ll live. Does that sound kind of harsh? Not sorry. The truth is not nearly as pleasant as often as we’d like to believe. We have to exercise some restraint. When Christmas has passed, YOU will be the one left to deal with your spending choices.
I want you to have a good time and celebrate Christmas with all your family and friends. But, even more so, I want you to celebrate wisely and not be burdened with any financial debt months later because you “went all out.” Besides, Christmas is about Jesus, not gifts! Enjoy the holiday season. But at the same time, know YOUR season. You can’t reap and sow at the same time. Merry Christmas and God Bless!