A New Attitude

Christmas in the post-War United States

Christmas in the post-War United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“If you will live like no one else, then later you can LiVe like no one else.” ~ Dave Ramsey.

It hit me today – a variation on that idea – and that is this:  “If you are living like no one else, then you can start giving like no one else.”

It’s Black Friday.  Millions of shoppers crowded stores like Target, Walmart, Best Buy to be one of the first customers to get that $400 TV for $150 – or some other “Made in China” crap – while canned Christmas music fills the air amidst disgruntled shoppers and cashiers telling customers how much they owe.  And owe and owe and owe, plus interest.

I wasn’t one of them.  My family and I headed to the North Carolina Farmer’s Market today, a treat we seldom get to enjoy since we moved out of that area.  Before going, though, my husband and I had discussed our plans for Christmas gifts this year.  Some people are so easy to shop for, and others are so incredibly challenging.  But this year, we’ve decided we’re going to give gifts that we can afford, not what we want people to think we can afford.

Homemade gifts are nothing new for us.  We’ve given pillows, tins of cookies and confections, soaps, dipping oils, extracts and other treats, all made by us (me, mostly).  I was raised, though, that homemade gifts aren’t that special, that it’s better to buy gifts from a store so the recipient can take them back.  Then I became an artisan crafter and people loved getting products from me that they didn’t have to buy.

There’s still that part of me, though, that wonders what people think when I give them something.  Do they feel stuck with the gift I carefully chose for them, that another artisan made with love and care?  Today, my thinking shifted in a huge way.  This morning, I thought, “I don’t care.”  Really, truly don’t care.

We give gifts carefully, and there’s nothing so exciting to me as finding that great gift and it practically shouting, “This is for ______!”  The package comes (if it’s something I’ve ordered), and I get to open it, then I get to wrap it – maybe in a box, maybe in a handmade cloth gift bag – and watch with excitement as my friend or relative opens it.

But to elaborate on the “I don’t care” part…  Pretty much everyone in our families knows we’ve been on a path toward financial peace this year.  Some of them have shared with us in the huge victories (clearing all our credit card debts), huge frustrations (wiping out 70% of our brand-spankin’-new emergency fund when my car needed repairs) and a few know the huge heartbreak that came over the Summer.  In short, they know we’re trying to do something new and great in our lives.

I won’t go into the specifics of what we’re giving so as not to spoil any surprises, but as the discussion unfolded this morning, I became excited.  Sure, I’d like to give more than what we’re giving, but I’m excited about what we’re giving for a few reasons:

  1. We’re giving what we’ve made with our own hands, so each gift comes with a heapin’ dollop of love.
  2. We’re giving as we are to protect out own reality, not someone else’s perception of our reality or what that reality “should” be.
  3. Our giving in this way allows us to be more generous to those who have far less than we do.
  4. By giving like this, we experience freedom:  Freedom from “must buy” syndrome and freedom to spend more time at home.  Or out looking at lights.  Or Christmas caroling.  Or at parties.  Pretty much anything but shopping.

Baby Step 7 is “Build wealth and give.”  We’re not even through Baby Step 1 for the second time, but I’m ready to give now.  That’s what my immature (??) red-faced kid is screaming for.  Maturity says I can’t give away wealth I don’t have, but I can give what I do have.

What creative ways have you discovered for saving money, time and stress during the holidays?

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