No Present Like The Time

Christmas comes but once a year—but it's been coming earlier and earlier. Spending a little can squish your inner Scrooge.

Dear Come Correct:

I’m starting to squirm: The Halloween clearance candy isn’t even gone yet, and the stores in my town are already selling Christmas lights! I was in a store yesterday that was playing Christmas music. I used to really enjoy the season, but now all I can think of is how much I’m going to have to spend to “enjoy” it. My co-workers exchange gifts (they don’t cost much, but still), my extended family will all send me presents. Members of my jogging club give each member a present. And have I gotten to my twentysomething kids, who all want fancy electronics, and my husband, who wants us to take a trip?

I can see why some people find the holidays depressing! I’m trying not to go there. I’d like to have a sane, relaxed holiday without a lot of money worries. Suggestions?

Bah Humbug

Dear Humbug:

Boy, do I feel your pain–and millions of other people do, too! Every year, many of us vow to have a sane Christmas. And every year, most of us break that vow. Lack of time, pressure to conform, not wanting to break your nephew’s heart when he really, really wants a (your choice of expensive, battery-operated toy that will be broken in three months here) all build up to not-so great expectations.

So, some suggestions:

At the Office

Instead of exchanging $5-$10 knickknacks with everyone in your office, organize a celebratory seasonal potluck: You get a great meal, time together, and you don’t put one more piece of cute junk on each others’ desk.