Broke for the holidays: just ignore it all

christmas tree
christmas tree

You can go far on the power of apathy. I stopped watching TV 15 years ago when my TV got stolen and I never got around to buying another. This has directly contributed to my being able to largely ignore the holiday season.

If you don't have TV blaring all the time, you don't have to listen to constant faux cheer and Victorian-era "nostalgia" the networks and advertisers throw out around Christmastime. Your kids won't get ideas about toys they "need." You don't have to listen to the continuous "Only 5-more-shopping-days-to Christmas!!!" newscasts.

Hyperbole alert: OK, I don't totally ignore the holidays. I do have kids, after all, and they tend to like the lights and the presents. And I, myself, am hardly impartial to a little glass of holiday cheer with friends. Before the kids came along, however, I spent a decade in blissful and complete Christmastime blackout. Even with the kids, who didn't become aware of the season until they started school, I am still able to largely ignore the all-consuming shopping spree orgy the holiday time has become in this country. And that's largely thanks to the fact that I don't have to hear about it.

This means that what has seeped through is more tradition, less commerce. After much begging, I finally relented on a small tree, only because of how enjoyable it is to decorate with the kids. The grandparents send along a few presents (they won't be denied), and although I don't buy them anything, they know I'm loose and easy with the home-made baked goods this time of year, and that's treat enough. Their Dad is in charge of their yearly stocking, complete with traditional chocolate orange and English Christmas "crackers." Nobody is left wanting.

What's missing is the wretched excess. The mountain of gifts under the tree. The panicked buying at the last minute, to make sure the mailman and the acquaintance down the street gets token junk they don't need and didn't ask for. The tormented travel to extended family dinners.

Also missing: The $2,000 hit on the charge card.

If you're broke for the holidays, consider having a small, quiet celebration with friends and family, close to home. Your wallet, at least, will celebrate.