The Great Christmas List Charade

by Kevin on December 23, 2013

I cannot stand the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping season. Unlike normal people, I “just” need to go to WalMart to get Sensodyne toothpaste for a sensitive area in my mouth. How unfortunate that this need falls right in the midst of everyone else panicking to buy their friends and families gifts they don’t need.

I end up fighting through throngs of rushing customers standing in line to meet the next beleaguered cashier. (And thank you, cashier in the pharmacy for letting me buy my one item from you. A Christmas miracle.)

As I walked through the aisles, sat in the traffic, and gladly pulled back into my driveway I wondered how many of those customers are up to their eyeballs in debt.

Dave Ramsey’s quote stuck out in my mind:

We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.

Is that you this holiday season?

Are you begging your family to provide you a Christmas list so you can go out and buy them things they want in hopes that in return they’ll buy the things you have on your list?

Why are we putting on the charade? Why don’t I buy what I need and want throughout the year, and you buy what you need and want throughout the year, and when we get to “family” time around the holidays we actually spend it with… family.

You know, relaxing and stuff. I hear puzzles are big this time of year. And fireplaces. And hot cocoa.

No more exchanging lists. No more feeling guilty because you got me something nicer than what I got you. Or you got me something — a true gift! — and I didn’t get you anything in return. Now I feel super guilty so I’ll just run out on December 26th to find something, anything, to appease your imaginary angry eyes. But my pity gift doesn’t help because its actually an insult: Hey, remember how you remembered me and gave me that awesome gift? Well, yea, I forgot about you and rushed out in a panic… so… here. Take this trinket. I thought of you all year. Scout’s honor. Yup.

“It’s too late for this year…”

You’re saying this in your head while you cry into your eggnog while reading through your credit card statements.

Fine, this year is too late to do anything about the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping. You’ve already gone out and spent money on things you couldn’t really afford to spend them on. They’re wrapped well and sure to delight the receiver in two days time.


Let’s talk about next year. Next Christmas is over 365 days from now. Why don’t we do something about that?

Have a talk with your family, your friends, your “let’s do another white elephant / dirty santa / yankee swap” coworkers, and whomever else you go shopping for burdened with guilt about what they might get you and you’ll show up empty-handed.

It’s dumb, people. Stop spending money you don’t have. Especially on superficial gifts that you’ll all forget about by the time eggnog goes out of grocery stores (woe is me). This is a symptom of a bigger spending problem, but let’s nix this one at least for next year.

Take the time you spent running from mall to mall this year and invest it into your family. You might be surprised how valuable it turns out to be.

{ 1 comment }

Elissa @ 20s Finances December 30, 2013 at 2:04 pm

All true – my brother’s workplace did a gift-free Christmas party so everyone could save money instead of buying gifts for people they hardly even knew! It’s nice for your close loved ones, but I don’t understand it otherwise.

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