Beware of Christmas Traps.
I love Christmas
I have many beautiful memories of Christmas.
As a Christian it holds a huge religious significance to me
and I'm sad that Christmas has become far more deceptive and dangerous than it should be. Marketers subtly playing on old time Christmas and people's desire to connect with family is deceptive. Marketers trying to pry into your wallet and get you into debt is dangerous. Neither is what I believe Christmas is about.
Friends, Family, and Faith
For me the heart of Christmas is faith. As a Christian I believe that it is all about God's gift for us. A special gift that makes us all family. In that light Christmas to me is all about spending time with family and remembering God's gift
A great thing, right?
Well, as I wrote in a recent post, a good thing can be turned into a bad one if it is in the wrong amount, wrong time, wrong reason and so forth.
Christmas is no exception
- Do I believe in presents at Christmas?
- Do I believe in family at Christmas?
- Do I believe in falling for all the Christmas hype?
- Do I believe that Christmas is being commercialized to something awful?
Is Christmas Racist?
Recently it came up in Canadian courts that Christmas was a racist holiday (along with Easter) and should be banned in Canada. Or at least not be a public holiday.
As a long time Canadian I thought that was ridiculous. However, you can check out the discussion on Global News. It was deemed that there were only two "religious" holidays in Canada--Easter and Christmas--and both were Christian based. No other faiths had their religious days recognized.
At quick glance I had to stop and think. Is Christmas actually discrimination against other religions?
I decided it isn't
Here is my rationale. The Christmas that is portrayed in Western society has exceedingly little to do with the Christmas I expect as a Christian. I hear lots of songs about Santa, Snowmen, and Reindeer. I hear lots of songs about gifts with friends and family. I see lots of ads for "holiday cheer" and "festive spirit". I'm just as likely to see X-Mas (with Christ "X'd" out) as I am to see Christmas. "Merry Christmas" can be seen as insensitive so better use "Happy Holidays" instead.
What I see and hear around me isn't the Christmas I want as a Christian, I see it as marketing and guilt to get people to spend more money. The same could be said for Easter (which has much more to do with chickens, rabbits and chocolate) but this article is about Christmas.
My quick advice? Say NO to commercial Christmas and YES to the spirit of Christmas
and if you don't know about the spirit of Christmas? Well, that's something I think is worth looking into.
Tips to avoid getting scammed at Christmas
1) Don't travel!
You'll hear a lot about spending time with family and everyone wants to travel and visit family over Christmas break. But there is a problem the airfare is super expensive at Christmas time and the planes are crowded with frazzled people. No Fun
To which people may say "I'll just drive" ... riiiightt travellling in the middle of winter admist bad weather and snow is a good idea. I'm thinking that's not a great idea either.
2) Spend Wisely.
You may have thought I'd say avoid spending but actually Christmas is a pretty good time to get a good deal. There are typically good deals on Black Friday and Cybermonday. There are really good deals on Boxing Day here in Canada (December 26th). Also during the season there can be lots of "loss leaders" to try and get you into the stores to buy stuff. If you look for deals and buy only what you need there are great deals to be found.
Example: Got a great deal on a new cellular phone and plan recently.
3) Get Food deals.
Again everyone is thinking about "Turkey Dinner" for Christmas and probaby eggnog as well. Spend full price on a Turkey (or Eggnog) and it will be a very sad day. However, there are great deals to be found but again look carefullly.
If you look at this Turkey you might expect it to be a 7-9kg Turkey which was currently selling for $22 HBD. Not a bad deal at roughly $3HBD per kg. However, when I looked a little closer I saw this.
It was 6.97kg so almost 7kg but not quite. The 5-7kg turkeys were going for $17HBD which is a little less than $2.50/kg. A little sleuthing got me the best deal. But here is where it got weird. The turkey had two scan codes on it. Scan the wrapper and it was $22 scan the meat tag and it was $17. Guess which one I scanned.
That is a lot of math. The actual message is look for the deals. They do exist around Christmas. If you know what you want (in my case a Turkey) and look for the best deal you can usually find it. Which brings me up to my final point
4) Know what you need and how much you should spend on it.
It is so easy to be tempted by shiny things that aren't necessary at Christmas. So many voices. So much sentimental music. So many bright and colourful displays. It is easy to fall into the trap of "ohh....that would be an awesome gift for ...." or "....that ornament is so pretty, I need it to complete my look at home". Nonsense. Buy gifts people need or will really appreciate if they are a good deal (or not). Decorate to be festive but don't overdo it. Far better to keep money in your pocket than spend on useless stuff and regret it in December
Especially important because the day after Christmas all those decorations, Wrap, and Knick knacks, will all be on sale 50% or more off to clear them out. Please don't be the person who buys stuff they don't need!
What will I be doing this Christmas
I certainly will be celebrating Christmas in the house. We will be having a big Christmas dinner for my Wife and myself. My children will likely show up. Girlfriends will be invited and other friends will be invited but Nena (my wife) will invite many others. It's a day to invite others into our home for a big feast, especially those who may not have people to spend Christmas with. Last year who had a refugee family join us, a few new immigrants and others far from home, and family and we made memories all together. Lots of memorable conversations.
There will be gifts for the family but typically also giving gifts to the less fortunate in the community. Typically given to the church and distributed through them.
There will NOT be travel during the Christmas season. Sure I would love to visit my mother and sister who are far away in Saskatchewan. However, the expensive airfare and difficulty in getting time off work make that just a little too difficult. With my wife working in the hospital she will probably be working at least a part shift during the day--because people still get sick, even on Christmas.
There will of course be phone calls and virtual calls to friends and family who live far away but an actual in person visit will wait until times when flights are much less expensive, there is better weather, and less stress with all the hustle around Christmas.
But for me the most important part of Christmas is spending Christmas eve at church with other Christians reflecting on the true meaning of "Christ's mass (with mass being a church service)"
Of course, there will also be the week after Christmas bargain hunting where we look for items on clearance at very cheap prices (we like 75% plus). Make a stockpile for next years decorations, next years fun presents, and "Christmas" food like eggnog and candies which go for very cheap.
I hate getting sucked in by Christmas Hype....but I'll happily take advantage of post Christmas deals
Big companies spend big money on Christmas....I'll happily take advantage of their unsold merchandise and desire to move on if it means I get to save big $$$. The more I save before Christmas the more I can spend after :)
Thanks for reading
and as always feel free to send comments.
I really like comments :)
and in case you are curious those are actual pictures I took of the Christmas Turkey this year. Those images are mine