Today, we put up our Christmas tree. A lot of the lights wouldn't work, and some of the decorations didn't look that fresh any more and I really could have used a new angel - this one looks like hell. But the truth is I just didn't have the wherewithal to go out and buy new stuff. I also didn't have the money to go out and buy new stuff. So, I made do with what I had, and though it looked to me a little sparse in some spots, the kids (naturally and thankfully) still think it's beautiful.
I think a lot of people are not in the holiday spirit yet, despite the fact that Christmas is only days away. Certainly, in most of the country, Mother Nature is doing her part to give us (well, not me, of course) a white Christmas. Maybe it's because she realizes that if she doesn't dazzle us now with a bit of the white stuff, it's really going to be a bleak holiday for a great many individuals.
Christmas presents, if there are any, are significantly fewer than they were just last year. Retailers know this, and that's why they are filling our email boxes with last minute enticements of coupons and free shipping and guarantees to get it before Christmas. The fact is no one has the money. Heavier mortgage payments, mounting credit card bills, escalating utility payments and hefty gasoline purchases earlier this year have eaten through nearly everyone's budget. What little money there is left has to be set aside for other essentials, like food, clothing and medical expenses. There's precious little left for gift giving.
That's another reason for the dearth of ho-ho-hoes. It's the same for us; I can fit all of the holiday presents for my three kids in a small box and have lots of room to spare. I dare not put it under the Charlie Brown tree in advance of the big day, or there are going to be three very long, very sad faces moping about our house in the interim. My mother would, no doubt, remind them that "good things come in small packages" but kids don't think like that, at least mine don't. They, as probably all kids, think like this: Bigger is Better and More, More, More.
And you know what, that was the heart of the problem, wasn't it? The reason we are all in the predicament that we're in is because we thought and acted like a child. We didn't understand about buying and spending in moderation, or saving for a rainy day. It was carpe diem all around. In retrospect, I wish I hadn't seized the day quite so often or hard. We're certainly all paying the price, aren't we?
But, just like a child, who lives only for the moment, we don't need to dwell on what is past. We can learn from it, and while it's been a hard lesson, I'm pretty sure it's one that will stay with us for a while.
But what doesn't have to stay with us for a while is the debt that put us in this horrible situation at what should be such a joyous time. Let this Christmas be the last melancholy one that you and your loved ones ever have to celebrate. DebtStoppers wants to give you a Christmas present this year: The chance to make your 2009 Christmas a better one. Contact us, and we'll tell you how it can be done.