Currently I am a part-timer. Which I thank my lucky star* for because it’s tough for a post-grad to find work these days, especially without any real world experience. Thankfully, I was employed literally the day after graduation. And that was nice…
Fast-forward six months.
Now I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty, but let’s just say I’m not exactly Tony Stark. I’m not coasting just yet. At this point in my life, my income keeps me alive and I’m thankful for it. I know that everything I’m doing now is going to re-teach me all of the values that I’ve forced out of my brain during college. And this is nice…
Now I’ve been learning to budget, and I supplement my life with a tutoring gig I swing at the beginning of every week. My parents got me a bed and I know that pretty soon I’ll actually be able to save. (*COUGH* Maybe even *COUGH* the universe will reward me *COUGH* with a *COUGH* salaried position *COUGH* a few months from *COUGH* now *COUGH*.) And these thoughts? Why, these thoughts are nice…
But every month or so, there’s a wrench thrown into my savings plans. Usually it’s just a little thing. A small stupid little thing that I can try to ignore and write off.
A night out for drinks with friends. A jaywalking ticket (Yes’ this happened). A double feature (Yes, I pay for both). Lunch with people who will look at me like a pauper if I order a small salad or the ole’ “just water, thanks.”
But once a year there’s one wretched day that just ravages my wallet and my conscience. That day is effing Christmas Day. It’s like it’s EVERYBODY’S birthday. You can’t avoid or skip it without looking like a total jerk, because IT’S ONE FREAKING DAY THAT YOU HAD 365 DAYS TO PLAN FOR. IT’S ONE DAY TO REMEMBER AND DECIDE TO BE SMART. I MEAN IF YOU CAN’T DO IT, DOESN’T THAT MAKE YOU A FAILURE WHO WASTED COLLEGE READING FRANKENSTEIN WHEN YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN STUDYING TO BE AN ACCOUNTANT??!?!?!?!?!
No. I’ve been in your shoes, my pathetic broken paupers.
In college, I’ve been the guy who comes home with Jack-Doo-doo because he spent most of his loot in the fashion of a Grade A Duck Kisser with a capital D. Plain and simple, Yeah, I’ve looked the fool brothers and mothers. And the thing is, not giving on Christmas Day feels bad, no matter how much you like to hate on the holidays.
Although my budget almost had me in a Full-Nelson, I countered with my new philosophy for gifts:
Go through the trouble. I’ll even make it a little acronym. TROUBLE. See?
- Try to get something for the people that matter. I’d stick with close family and something for the person your seeing. In the case of me and my roommate (who I love) we’ve agreed to share gifts some other time, perhaps even some of our favorite bottles of the good stuff too. And by the good stuff, I mean very affordable booze in larger quantities. A friend’s a friend forever.
- Realize that it’s not a money spending competition. It may be quaint, but it truly is the thought that counts. To make it easier, I like to set up a price limit for my obligatory gifts so they’re all in the same range with the same amount of thought. Sound ridiculous, but you ain’t Iron Man, and everyone knows you need to pay rent, so find something unique to them that isn’t a fortune. I’d rather have the Tenth Doctor’s Screwdriver than the Tenth Doctor’s Jacket, if I know they are breaking their back to get it. Sometimes a gift can say “hey man, I get you.“
- Old people can be your holiday Dark Knight (SOMETIMES). I’m talking parents people. The thing about parents that is totally amazing is that they don’t really expect a whole lot from you. Most of the time, they’re just in awe that your dumb ass is still breathing. They literally gave you the gift of life anyway, so it’s not like you can really ever compete with that gift, unless you give em’ grandkids. And you bet your bottom dollar, that’s miles away from now. However in all seriousness, your parents get it if you’re not a millionaire. But it goes back to the thought. Do SOMETHING. You’re parents will always understand and if you’re lucky, you can always make a comeback on their birthdays, Father’s Day (Ha), Mother’s Day, and other major days dedicated to nice old folks.
- Underwear is a good gift for guys. Seriously, get people things they need or won’t buy for themselves. When my mom buys me boxer briefs, I know that’s her way of reminding me that she loves me and that I’m never really going to take care of myself as well as everyone else can.
- Babies are really easy to get gifts for. Totally take care of them first if you have a big family. Sorry to be a realist. Also, this is an edit, because I forgot B. Dave Vella gets the Error Nickel.
- Like, wrapping paper is dumb. Use newspaper. It’s green.
- Eventually, plan to be prepared for the holidays. The earlier you plan, the less stress you’ll have when the heat is on. Just remember what the holidays are supposed to be about. Santa Claus sent us his only son to liberate us from the British. And then a dragon brings in the new year. Gifts are fleeting, but at least half of your relationships are going to carry you through life. It’s really not that big a deal whether you’re a pauper, or the Invincible Iron Man.
Christmas and stuff: share some stories about your best and worst gifts. Go.
*I thought about correcting it, but with luck like mine, I probably just have one really over-zealous lucky star.