Friday, September 19, 2008

96 Shopping Days Left!!

Only 96 shopping days left until Christmas!!

What!! Does that send a wave of panic in you? Do you find yourself checking the balance in your checkbook in the middle of the night? Do you hear those plastic demons screaming at you from within your wallet, "BUY THIS!! CHARGE THAT!!"? Do you toss and turn wondering what you're going to do? So many people to buy for, so many people to please....

Just relax...96 days is more than enough time to get those gifts ready for Christmas. The question you must first ask yourself is who do I need to get a gift for. In our house, we, of course, give gifts to each other...Dad, Mom, Beth, Zack....then we look to our extended family...2 grandmas, 1 grandpa, 1 step grandpa, 2 couples, 2 single sis-in-laws, 1 single bro-in-law, 3 nieces and 4 nephews.

We usually purchase something for the grandparents and nieces and nephews, but for the couples and the sis & bro-in-law, they usually get a gift from the kitchen. In years past we have done cookies in a jar and homemade Christmas ornaments. I also watch for amazing sales throughout the years. One year I found grilled cheese toasters for $2 each. I bought 6 and took care of 5 gifts for $10 (I kept one of those toasters for myself!!)

I also watch througout the year for sales for the nieces and nephews. In our area different toys, books and clothes are on sale all the time. Even though I have teenagers at home, a normal shopping day will find me in the toy aisle, simply because most of my neices and nephews are under the age of 10.

One pit to avoid is buying those gifts for people you don't really know who I'm talking about....the mail person, the newspaper delivery person, the bag can really rack up some expense or (forbid it!!) debt when you are buying for everyone you know or have had a slight meeting with. My teens and I usually spend a couple of days in the kitchen a couple of weeks before Christmas baking cookies and bars and making candy. We put in a couple of Christmas cd's and heat up some hot chocolate and we're off!! After we're finished with our baking, we put a few cookies in some plastic wrap, a few pieces of candy in some plastic wrap and the same with a few of the bars. I buy Christmasy (?) bags at the dollar store and we put a little of everything down in those bags. We tie up the top, add a Christmas card (one that actually says MERRY CHRISTMAS)--another soap box I'll address later-- and start sharing.

We give a bag to our newspaper lady, our mail lady, the piano teacher, the Sunday school teachers, anybody who has touched our lives in a special way. We even give a bag to our garbage men! I'll never forget the look on their faces (we were peeking out the window!) when they stopped and saw a "Christmas present" for them. Let's face it....if it weren't for them, think about the mess we would be living in!! I am very thankful for them.

For our immediate neighbors, I usually bake a loaf of homemade bread and some type of pie. All of this doesn't take much money or effort and the blessing we receive far outweighs anything we give out.

Christmas has gotten so materialistic and there is so much hype about buy this, get that...our lives will be so much better if we only had.....I just can't stand it anymore. We wonder why there is so many who are dissatisfied with their lives...when is enough, enough??

Christmas is about Jesus Christ. The Ultimate Gift. Nothing any of us could ever buy or make could surpass the gift He gave us so long ago. And once you've recevied the Ultimate Gift, everything else pales in comparison anyway doesn't it??