This was the 3rd year where Kristen and I really controlled Christmas instead of Christmas controlling us. We’ve always had a desire to keep Christmas in it’s rightful place. It seems like it is finally sinking in and becoming a habit.
The good news is that anyone can control Christmas!
Practically, we are celebrating another Christmas paying for everything in cash. (Gasp! You can do that?) Around Thanksgiving Kristen and I discussed how much we wanted to spend and we did a good job sticking to our gift giving budget. (Our big splurge was the new TV. The crazy thing about that is it was the first TV I’d ever bought!)
We don’t have the best history as far as gift giving goes. Like a lot of couples, we completely overspent for years. In those earlier days of our marriage, when we had more cash flow than wisdom to handle it, we managed to spend way more than we could afford and got used to paying off Christmas debt well into Spring.
My only encouragement to those who want to make a change is plan early and pay cash. I don’t mean “buy early” as that’s not the best way to get deals. Just plan early and set aside some cash to buy gifts. From there, commit to not dipping into savings or using a credit card.
Here’s the kicker. We’re less stressed out about it and it gives us a chance to teach our kids about Jesus. Now that Christmas is over I have zero guilt about what we spent. The secret is that the kids are just as happy with fewer, smaller presents, as they were when we spent a lot! The Incarnation didn’t happen so we could get further entrapped! He came to fully release us from bondage. That means the bondage of sin. But it also means that Jesus’ taking on flesh is a reminder that we can be released from our other indebtedness.
A simpler Christmas is over the top fun. I just hope we can be even more disciplined in 2009.