Sunday, 27 November 2011

Yuletide Epiphany

Over the last few years my love of the festive season has faded somewhat. Somewhere along the line the fun and anticipation was replaced by stress and headaches. I'm not sure when it changed, maybe it was once my children were no longer living with me, or maybe during the hectic few years when my husband and I were always working through the holidays, or maybe it was when financial pressures made the whole damn thing a nightmare.

I always did my best, I'd shop and cook and decorate with the best of them but the shine and sparkle had gone. I felt I was dragging myself, kicking and screaming, through all the festivities. Last year we didn't manage to get to see our families, I couldn't afford to buy for half the people I wanted to and we were both ill from Christmas Eve through to New Year.

This year was shaping up to be more of the same.

But not now. I woke up a few mornings ago and thought WHAT ON EARTH AM I DOING?

I can't wave a magic wand and improve our finances overnight. I can't turn back the clock and create more time to do everything. I can't wipe out my husband's unhappy childhood memories of Christmas. What I can do is change my attitude towards it all and make our Yule the bloody best it can be.


I've reinstated a tradition my sister in law and I developed when the children were tiny and we were broke. I've set a £3 maximum limit on yuletide spending per person. Yes, you read that right. THREE WHOLE POUNDS.

When we first came up with the idea nearly twenty years ago it was a £1.50 limit but I'm allowing for inflation! The children were small and happy with colouring books and such like from their auntie, and us adults had fun hunting out the weirdest, wackiest gifts we could find for the least amount of money. Gift opening was a real hoot, and it soon spread throughout the family. Christmas day would guarantee a string of hilarious phone calls 'What did so and so get you? Have you worked out what it is yet?' Over the years, as our financial situations improved, we stopped doing it. Well now its back.

I've called everyone and told them what I'm doing, after all I don't want anyone to be offended if they've spent a lot when I haven't. Everyone is fine about it, they are all tightening their belts too, and most are really keen to join in. We are all making exceptions for our own children, and maybe grandchildren who are old enough to be excited, but otherwise it is a £3 MAXIMUM spend. And I really do mean that's the maximum. The cheaper the better. 50p? Brilliant. You get extra points for that (yes, we keep score. It all adds to the fun).

O.K so it takes a bit more time as it involves really thinking about the gifts or making them by hand but isn't that so much better than running into Boots on your lunch break and grabbing a load of their 3 for 2 offers? Of course it is. I'm taking the 'its the thought that counts' concept to the extreme. You've heard of extreme sports? Well nothing beats EXTREME FESTIVE SHOPPING, not for the faint hearted. Forget White Christmas... welcome to my white knuckle Yule.

Try it, its fun. And best of all I'm looking forward to Yule with a childlike anticipation I haven't felt in years.


  1. My family had a 10,-€ limit on gifts. These days, we do not even get each other gifts for Yule, unless we find something we really think the others will appreciate. I enjoy making stuff for people,. ^^

  2. I love the idea, probably because I practice it myself; in dollars, of course, not pounds ;-)

    I feel it makes us creative, and our gifts are reflections of what we think of each other. Last year, the Little Princess made me a crown, I made her a sign that said "Genius at Work, Even During the Holidays." She loves it, and told everyone she was a genius lol. I like knowing I'm my Little Princess's queen ;-)

  3. I love this and what a marvelous idea. So agree, the season has gotten out of hand and needs to return to its honesty. Blessings to you and those you love. Sea Witch

  4. We did that one year - brilliant fun. Now we spend the last 6 months of the year looking through the charity shops for classy gifts. My Dad hated Christmas too - used to hide in a remote valley in mid-Wales for a week in a bivy bag till the whole thing was over. One year he was woken by a man dressed as Father Christmas shouting "Yo Ho Ho!" as he walked over the moor towards him. Wish I could have seen my Dad's face! Think he is off again this winter as well, hostel this time as he is older. Cunningly chosen a hostel that is officially closed because it its too cold and remote. Never managed to persuade him to celebrate the 21st instead - some sort of consumerist allergy overcomes him and he spends the whole of December hiding from the lights and music. Even buys supplies in so he can avoid the shops.