Cheap Christmas …

Where does Santa Claus get his capital outlay and cash flow? This is an important question for a skin-flint, penny-pinching, cheap-skate like myself. I don’t buy gifts at Tiffany's; or even at super-chain department stores; or even at box-it-yourself outlet warehouses. I go to rummage sales and forgotten attics. (Don’t tell my family.) I have been tempted to “forget” putting the gift in the pretty box and “remember” it for the recipient after the after-Christmas sales. Besides, I’ve always been told that it’s the thought that counts.

Did you know that if you keep your Christmas cards for about a dozen years, the signatures fade so you can reuse them? I tell people that the yellowed paper is actually a desirable antiquing effect.

Christmas is too commercial anyway. It always has been. The first gifts were gold, perfume, and a preservative. (I wonder if that preservative was what started the fable about fruitcakes.) Christmas lists are full of material things – things that often are stamped “made in Slobbovia” or someplace other than the U.S.A. I don’t understand buying something from a non-Christian country for our Christmas gifts. The Chinese don’t buy our firecrackers for their New Years party. Hindu people in India don’t buy our beef for their feasts. Hong Kong doesn’t buy our labor force for their vacations.

I question the mass-printed family newsletters that people send to everybody else, especially when you only hear from them once a year. I got one last year addressed to somebody else; no real difference. I like Christmas cards that are signed with just a first name and nobody knows what the last name is. I once got back a “return to sender” Christmas card and couldn’t figure out who it was from.

Don’t take me wrong, my family is not deprived. We still have boxes of stuff from by-gone years. Did you know that they used to make dolls that didn’t do anything other than fulfill a little girl’s make-believe? An antique G.I. Joe didn’t actually blow things up using light and smoke. My grown son still cherishes his old .22 squirrel rifle, rather than a modern, automatic, night-scoped, lazer-sighted, assault weapon. It was the time he and I spent together practicing with it that we will always remember. How many millions of games are given at Christmas that people never get together to ever play? My mother has given relatives a recipe for a Bohemian dish because we all remember the times around the family table, laughing and eating “starets”. Each member of my family receives a tree ornament that is dated and has something connected to the recipient; like Santa kissing Mrs. Claus for my wife and me. The shiny boxes are under the tree early to fill our dreams longer. I still keep Christmas cards from my father from many years ago.

Come to think of it, maybe it is the thought that counts.