Ok, so I'm not really feeling maximum Christmas vibes yet. But ever so slowly, Christmas is making its way felt. In the same way that negativity is infectious, Christmas spirit is also catching. Yin to the yang.
I refused to let Christmas get to me this year because it seemed like there was nothing to celebrate. With the burning down of Aleppo, rampant EJKs, idiot government officials, etc. etc. and so forth, it felt wrong to don my merrymaking hat. Also, I didn't qualify for most of the year-end bonuses because I didn't meet the basic tenure guidelines, and when I did qualify, it was still pro-rated at a sad 30%. Crazy world + no money = scroogey grumpy Jill.
But, as I said, Christmas is an annoying little beast that refuses to be ignored. And with a three year old who joyfully dances to Christmas songs and gets excited over Christmas gift, how could I not give in to Christmas?
While the marketing machinery tells you to spend your way to happiness during the Christmas season, it is very possible to not blow your entire Christmas bonus and still feel happy. Christmas is about the feels (and baby Jesus) y'all, and you can get the feels even without buying out the entire mall. Here are some ways I get my Christmas on without making my wallet cry bloody murder:
1. Set the mood and decorate your house- our six year old Christmas tree looked sad and miserable by its lonesome self so I decided to make paper stars and string them across the windows. It probably took about 6-8 hours, spread out in two days, to fold and spray paint the stars and braid the plastic rope, but Christmas songs were playing while I was toiling and when I was finished putting them up, I would have joyfully sat through a Jose Mari Chan concert because *gasp* is that Christmas in my heart?!
2. Schedule meet-ups with people you like - except for office parties, you can choose which parties to attend. With the power of choice completely up to you, ditch the guilt and only go to those you know you'll enjoy. You'll be braving horrible traffic and the risk of waking up hungover and bloated the following day, so the party better be worth it and spent in the company of people you adore.
3. Ditch the generic gifts and give a few but thoughtful presents instead - I love office secret Santas or monito-monita as we call it here in the islands. I love that I don't have to stress out about what inexpensive thing I have to buy 20-30 pieces of just so that I can give my entire office a token. Besides 20-30 pieces of random something still ends up costing quite a lot, and chances are, your officemates will just stick it in a drawer and forget about it. Or stash them together with the other decadent goodies they received and pray that all the calories don't end up in their stomach or thighs.
While I disdain shopping for generic gifts, I look forward to buying presents for my nephews, nieces and my son because I love how their little faces light up when they tear open the wrapper and see what's inside. The presents I give are rarely ever expensive because I just don't roll that way, but I make sure to take their interests into consideration and give them something that I know that they'll enjoy.
4. Cook your way to a potluck - I am not the best cook but it takes little to no skill whatsoever to make a tortilla roll-up or assemble a fruit plate. Baked chicken is also a beginner level recipe, just make sure you don't burn it in the oven. For a dose of inspiration, type in "easy potluck recipe" or "easy appetizers" or anything with easy before it, to be frank, and be amazed at the culinary landscape unfolding before your eyes.
At the end of the day, Christmas is about giving thanks, remembering and celebrating all that you have been blessed with. Anything beyond that is just an add-on. Don't let those add-ons ruin your season by causing unnecessary stress. Wrap yourself in a warm blanket of love this holiday season and feel free to swat away anything or anyone that will disturb your cocoon of happiness.
Happy holidays everyone!