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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Lack of Christmas Related Posts on this Blog

A perceptive reader noticed something about my blog and made an apparent discovery, using super sleuthing skills.
Because the whole frugal blogosphere is abuzz at the moment with tips on how to keep the costs of Christmas down and not give in to the spending insanity, the fact that I haven't even had one post on the topic of Christmas (this year, at least) makes it apparent that I don't celebrate Christmas.

Is that so?

What is the reason that I haven't posted anything about frugal Christmases the way the entire rest of the frugal blogosphere has? Is the reason because, as the reader reasoned, my family and I don't celebrate Christmas?

I am sure this reader is not the only person who noticed this apparent lack of posts. You may have been wondering the same thing yourself. I figured you readers deserve an answer to this question, because it is a logical question. If I am all about saving money, why haven't I posted a single blessed thing about most families' biggest money suck of the year- Christmas?


There actually are 3 reasons why I have not, and whether or not my family celebrates Christmas is absolutely irrelevant, because the reasons I haven't posted on the topic has zero to do with our religious observance or lack thereof.

First off, one thing I've noticed about most frugal blogs is they tend to be very religion dominant, or strongly culturally focused. People are being true to themselves and true to their beliefs, because, very often, their frugality is part of their religious observance or culture, and while it is understandable for someone to blog like that, the religious/cultural heaviness of the blogs are actually very alienating to people who may be interested in the frugality aspect, but may not want to read about religion mixed in with the frugal talk.
Some readers find religion “being shoved down their throat” very distasteful, and others simply find that they don't relate to the blog as well because the author has a very different belief system or way of life from their own.
When I started my blog, I decided that I wanted it to be completely religion free, also because I don't think my religious beliefs need to be the whole world's business, but also because I didn't want to alienate people that have different religious values than myself. I think I've been rather successful at that; I know my readership is comprised of people of so many different religions and cultures, and I think my being religion free helps that happen.
This, really, is reason number one why I didn't share any posts about Christmas on my blog, because Christmas, even with all the modern day commercialism, is a religious holiday in essence, and it is important to me for my blog to stay religion free.

The second reason why I didn't post anything about the Holiday season even though the whole blogosphere is abuzz with it is precisely because that is what everyone is talking about. I tend to try to be different than other bloggers, to stand apart, and not do things “just because everyone else is doing it”. Keeping up with the Joneses, doing things “just because everyone else is doing it” and "it" has become the "accepted cultural norm", is actually highly problematic, both from a frugal and even a moral standpoint. When you do something just because everyone else is, you aren't usually weighing the consequences of doing so, and deciding whether it is something that is truly in line with your value system- you're just doing it by rote because “that's what everyone else is doing”.

So, the blogosphere is and has been abuzz with posts about special deals in honor of the Holiday season, how to get the most bang for your buck on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, how to make all sorts of presents from scratch to give to family members, etc...

Are these posts actually in line with our values? Are these posts in line with the values espoused by this blog?
 
On the surface, yes. They're about how to spend less than one would normally this Holiday season, and cutting costs is something I support.

However...
From the time the middle of November rolls around (and generally even earlier), the “Holiday Season” begins. “Holiday Season” is actually quite the misnomer, because the goal of the season isn't to celebrate what the various December holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, etc...) are about, its about “celebrating commercialism and consumerism”, encouraging you to spend as much as possible, as if that is what this time of year is all about. Spend, spend, spend is the underlying message from all around, from peers, from television adverts, from billboards, catalogues, etc. The consumerism has gotten so out of hand that people routinely go heavily into debt in December, wracking up huge credit card bills, and spoil their kids rotten. In fact, I bet if you asked the average American kid what Christmas is about, he'll tell you something about Santa and presents, and nothing about the true meaning and purpose of the holiday.

For all that the standard “frugal blogs” seem to think that they're swimming against the tide, that they're discouraging irrational spending and the focus on consumerism with their holiday themed posts, I actually have an issue with the types of posts that have become par for the course at this time of year.

Yes, certainly it is better to budget all year for Christmas than to go into debt for it, but if you spend hundreds or thousands on the holiday, it is still pretty wasteful, even if not financial recklessness. Yes, it is better to make gifts from scratch or buy them on sale than to pay retail price for brand new merchandise, but even so, its possible to go overboard with the gift giving.

My big problem with the types of posts prevalent in the frugal blogosphere at the moment is that they don't even realize it, but they're promoting the same message that they're trying to avoid- that of consumerism, that you need things to make you happy.
Yes, even if you give your kids upcycled gifts or things made from scratch, or bought on sale, if you're giving your child more than 1 or two presents, no matter how much they cost, they're going to associate the Holiday season not with the spirit of giving, with connecting with family, but with how many presents they accumulated.
 If you're posting about Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales on items that aren't necessary, you're encouraging people to spend money recklessly. Think about it- the reason that there are so many Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales is not to benefit the consumer! Its because they realize that people will be lured into the shop with the promise of great bargains, and end up spending a fortune on things they don't need and probably never would have even considered purchasing had it not been “a great bargain”. Stores roll in the cash from all the shoppers that think they're being “money smart”. The most frugal thing possible is to do without, not to buy it for cheaper than it would have been otherwise, because cheaper than originally is still more expensive than the zero you would have spent had you not gotten that “terrific bargain”.

In short, I haven't posted anything about the Holiday Season aka Commercialism and Consumerism Season because I think that the multitude of posts on the topic repeatedly for a month and a half straight from frugal bloggers actually encourage consumerism, and miss the point of what this season is truly about.

That said, I do have a couple of posts that I wanted to share on this topic, but certainly not a whole month and a half worth of posts, and hopefully will get around to posting about them within the next week.

Hopefully, which brings me to the next reason why I haven't posted anything so far on this Holiday Season.

I post about my life. I post about what is going on in my life. My blog is giving frugal tips, but it's also a journey that goes hand in hand with my life. I get inspired by my life's happenings and share tips and thoughts with you readers based on that.
If you hadn't picked up on it yet, I am currently very pregnant.
Pregnancy and childbirth and preparing for a new baby are pretty much what is on my mind. Therefore, that is what I post about.
To be honest, most years we generally do more for the holiday season than we are this year. Because I'm pretty much due smack in the middle of the holiday season, I have so many things on my mind to prepare for the birth and for immediately after. The holiday season itself is the last thing on my mind; we're doing things on a much smaller scale than our usual already small scale holiday. I don't want to make plans for family get togethers and then need to cancel them because I'm in labor or immediately post partum.
In fact, just on Saturday night, I thought I was going into labor, but fortunately, the contractions stopped. We're definitely chilling out here and taking it easy, not doing anything major.
What are we doing for the Holiday season?
My husband and I aren't giving each other gifts, nor are we giving any to relatives. We did find a toy kitchen in the dumpster and we're fixing it up and we also are buying our kids toy food, pots, and pans to go with their toy kitchen. (Their requested gift.)
Aside from that... who knows... We're taking it a day at a time.
So thats yet another reason why I haven't been posting much about the holiday season- because, quite frankly, its not at the top of my mind at the moment; there are other more pressing concerns, even though it is December.

So....
My husband wasn't sure I should post this or not; he said that its not necessary to try to change the world, and that even if I'm against consumerism and think the standard “Frugal Christmas” posts are subtly encouraging consumerism, I don't need to share that.
And maybe he's right, and maybe some people will be highly offended by this post, and if that's the case, I apologize in advance... The reason for this post isn't to criticize others, but rather, to explain why I feel that a billion posts on a frugal Christmas goes against the spirit of my blog, and that's why I have bucked the trend in the blogosphere and made my statement by not posting on the topic until now.

How do you celebrate the holiday season?

Linking up to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Frugal Friday

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