Last year we spent less than $100 to provide Christmas for our family. It was a very difficult task which involved me combing through garage sales every week for months to find hidden treasures. I did it because I had to. This time last year we were living off of savings. Not only that, but we couldn’t see any way to replenish those savings in enough time to prevent running out. We drew a financial line after which Howard would have to seek outside employment rather than depending upon cartooning. That deadline loomed and I was desperate to keep it as far away as possible.
This year our situation is very different. We successfully self-published the first Schlock book. We’re on the edge of publishing the next one. Our budget is still necessarily tight, but the future is open and free of that we’re-out-of-money deadline. Without desperation driving me, I simply haven’t been going to garage sales this year. I”m still collecting stuff that I run across, but I’m not seeking out things to acquire. This means that as Christmas draws closer we’ll be spending money. I figure the budget for this Christmas will be around $500. And that probably won’t include travel expenses for going to my parent’s house. Compared to last year this proposed budget seems extravagant.
Part of me feels a little guilty about the difference between last year and this year. There were some truly wonderful things that occurred because I was so focused on not spending money. I want to find a way to keep those good things without having to work quite so hard. I’m not sure whether that will be possible. After so much time spent squeezing every penny, it feels like cheating for me to spend money to solve so small a problem as Christmas gifts. Part of my brain is convinced that the right way to do Christmas is the way I did it last year. A very different part of my brain is very glad that I can relax and not work so hard.
A third part of my brain is wondering why on earth we’re spending so much energy thinking about Christmas at the beginning of September.