Like the rest of the country, I am heading toward a fiscal cliff. I had resolved to let this holiday season be simple: a season to observe winter, or religion, or inner peace. Any one of those three celebrations should not cost a great deal.
Several years ago, we reduced and recycled much of our household goods. We were left with a very huge couch,a large bed and various paintings from talented relatives. We haven’t really missed those other items, except every once in a very long time when Stanley wishes for his silver engraver. I don’t understand this sentiment at all. He never thinks about my perfect little round table that mysteriously disappeared from the ‘keep’ pile, but he mourns his little engraver, whose purpose I have never quite appreciated.
So, we have been left with just enough to fit inside a tiny bungalow and a small cottage. Just right. No fiscal cliff.
Not needing things at all, the Christmas season leaves me flummoxed. I know, as an American, I have a seasonal obligation to contribute in some meaningful fashion to the economy. I buy a very few gifts for the new generation in the family, a card or two, a box of candy or two. That’s it. That’s my contribution and it fits the budget nicely.
Watching expenses is always necessary, but this year, when the renovation is taking longer and the peeling back of each layer of this 60-year old onion reveals more moldy skin, it’s especially important . We need what money we have for the pile of wiring that must be untangled and removed by someone who knows how to defuse that potential bomb of melded electricity. We need it for the charred ceiling. We need it for those things that have priority over garish Christmas decor and unneeded gifts.
I put up two decorations. One is a ceramic Christmas tree with tiny lights given to me by my mother. It shines softly and is beautiful. Its one light bulb that fits into the base needs to be replaced. But it is so old that I haven’t found a replacement in the first four stores I looked. I have found cords of 18-foot long lighted ropes that hook into one another if you continue to buy them from the same manufacturer every year, fake trees, real trees, gold plated wreaths and green ones. Also, blow-up Santas, reindeer with purple glossy antlers, chimes and chimes and more chimes that would drive you crazy with their chattering glee all night long.
I have tried every type of gift-buying tradition. Purchase a star, give a gift from Heifer, give a real gift in a nice package. Whatever I choose to give almost always reaches only the far edge of the target of what people really want. Everyone is always grateful, because the ones I give to are nice people and it’s the thought that counts, right?
But the Christmas fiscal cliff looms, though I have not yet fallen off. Maybe I haven’t found that pesky old light bulb, but I haven’t given up yet and I haven’t come home with purple antlers on a reindeer. I have a plan and am sticking to it. If I need some advice, I will ask Stanley for some help. And consider his response.
Come on, American Senate and Congress. If Marsha can do it, so can you.
*photo credit: Debenhams http://www.debenhams.com/