Blake Snow

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How overdoing Christmas taught me the reason for the season

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Sometime in my late twenties, my wife and I started to make serious money. I’m talking legitimate thousandaires. A penthouse apartment even. Life was humming. 😁

By the time the holidays rolled around, I had already dropped $1000 at a single clothing store all on myself. For me at the time, this was an enormous amount of money and a clear indicator I was spending almost as fast as I was incoming.

Lindsey and I had two adorable little girls under the age of three. For Christmas that year, I remember buying them both lots of little gifts. But Lindsey and I really bought the bulk of the gifts, especially the big ones, for ourselves.

Boxes from Amazon would arrive nearly every day. We’d wrap the gifts for ourselves. Then put them under the tree.

When space under the tree filled, we started lining the living room walls with presents. By the time Christmas Eve rolled around, the presents covered three quarters of the room, several gifts high and several gifts deep.

After dinner with extended family, Lindsey and I relaxed on our newly purchased Bassett sofa set and took in the haul. Christmas music quietly played in the background. Although the lights were dimmed, it was easy to see the amount of gifts we had bought ourselves.

I immediately felt a tinge of regret. Lindsey and I looked at each other. We didn’t say much, but we were both ashamed of our behavior.

We kept the presents, of course, and plowed into them with abandon the next morning. But it wasn’t as satisfying as I had hoped or originally planned.

Treating yourself is one thing. But selfishly splurging on yourself, especially during Christmas, is something else entirely.

“Let’s not do that again,” we resolved. In the following years, we’ve minimized our Christmas haul and give very little (if anything) to ourselves. We also invest in experiences more than things and try to give more than we receive. For us, Christmas has taken on new meaning and never feels hollow like it did that year.

Morale of the story: Christmas is only overdone if we let it. No one is forcing us to overspend or selfishly consume. Each of us can choose how we spend the season. And when we celebrate it for the right reason, I can’t think of a better way to end the year—with gratitude, light, warmth, and sharing.

Read also: How I cheated Christmas in 1988

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