A bit early to be thinking about the holidays, right? Well maybe not. The holidays mean many things for many different people. Anyone under the age of 22 probably thinks the months of November and December are the best time of every year. Anyone over the age of 22 might find the holidays a little stressful. Parents and grandparents? Those poor dears can find the holidays to be the most stressful and lonely time of the year. I still think the holidays are fabulous. The combination of cold weather, good food, comfortable sweaters, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations, Christmas commercials, pine-scented candles, family time, and time off of work is so incredibly euphoric that I’m often bouncing through the season.
BUT, I do finally realize a few things that make believe I should start thinking about the holidays early. Firstly, I do hardly any of the work when it comes to making sure Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are as enjoyable as possible. It’s my parents who scrub the house from top to bottom, cook for two weeks straight, put up the Christmas lights, and buy all of the gifts. My contribution is showing up. The holidays are hard for my mom because her kids have split off into all corners of the country. She’s in Minnesota, my sister is in North Carolina, and I’m in Missouri. Even her own family is in Alabama, Florida, and Connecticut. It’s been hard for all of us to get together, and this year will be the first time we’re not all together because my sister is staying in North Carolina with her husband and two kids (an understandable decision). I need to think about the holidays early to make sure my mom doesn’t feel let down. I’ve already started telling her my plans to come up and offered to make three of the recipes so she doesn’t have to worry about them. Well, she might have to worry a little bit, but they’ll at least be edible. Daughter of the year award? Maybe, I’ll let you know, but the holidays aren’t about me, they’re about my friends and family and I need to consider them.
Secondly, I realized that I now have a ton of presents I need to buy for Christmas. I’ve also realized that although I have a salaried job and try to save, I don’t have a lot of money. That doesn’t mean my Christmas gifts to others are going to be bad, but it means I need to start planning now. I made a list of all the people I need to buy presents for, and after I made that list I made a budget. Yes, a budget. This is something unfamiliar to my parents around the holidays but I don’t have that luxury. Friends, significant other, significant other’s family, family, extended family, coworkers… oh wow I get stressed just thinking about it. But the budget helps. For certain people I am able to allocate a certain amount to, and then I determine the price of gifts for the others based off of that. I now have the gifts of six people already figured out! Thinking about Christmas early has helped me to start saving early. I have an app on my phone that helps me do that. I have my fixed income and expenses in the app and it tells me how much I can spend each day for that month in order to have enough money for my expenses and regular savings. For Christmas, I set a future “big spending” and it subtracts that from each day’s “amount I can spend.” (The app is called Daily Budget and it’s amazing if you actually record every time you spend.) This makes my holiday shopping so much easier. I don’t get overwhelmed in December buying gifts because I’ve already saved up the amount I need.
Start thinking about the holidays early this year for yourself and for your friends and family. Reduce some of the stress associated with the holidays so they can be enjoyed to their fullest. And besides, if you love Christmas, then thinking about Christmas early will just make Christmas longer. And that’s a glorious thing.