Christmas Reckoning

December 28th, time to sum up Christmas.

In literal terms, the sums I spent were comparable to last year. Not as small as they could have been, but not as large, either. One key difference is that 90% of my shopping was done with my debit card, not my credit card. I’ve always, for Christmas, just put everything on the credit card and then paid it off later (usually, in January; sometimes, later than that). It just seemed easier and kept it from interfering with my “regular” budget. Naturally, it also made me more likely to overspend. As of today, I’m virtually all caught up — the little bit on the CC is 75% paid off.  I also used eBates wherever possible and will definitely be getting a fat check from them.

A separate issue is how much I spent on takeout and fast food because I was too tired from shopping, baking, and cleaning to cook. I have to look at the December budget again to try to figure that out. Adding to the muddle is the fact that at certain points I was using cash to pay for things, because blah blah long story.

I can think of maybe one particular shopping trip to one particular place that didn’t need to happen. I also really should quit sending Christmas cards. Everything else, I feel good about. My parents and in-laws received tickets to shows. I bought my husband needed items — winter coat, jeans — that I got good prices on. We splurged on the kids by getting a Wii U, but everything else they got was fairly tame, and limited in number. Well, my daughter got a Barbie Dream House, which she had been asking for, but it came from a Facebook yard sale and the seller further cut the price when my husband picked it up on Christmas Eve morning — to $20!

So between Santa and their relatives, they have plenty of stuff to keep them amused for a while. My personal favorites are the walkie-talkies I bought at Sports Authority — I think they will prove to be a lot of fun in their outdoor games — and the slippers (Children’s Place and Stride Rite). Light-up unicorns, dinosaur/lizard/monster?, and bear feet. My daughter even wears the unicorns to bed.


The 75-degree weather on Christmas Eve meant that we didn’t bother with fancy clothes, so that was one less expense. My daughter wore her favorite summer dress. I did spend a lot on Christmas Eve dinner, in the form of lots of seafood for cioppino.

This was my first time ever making this dish and it came out well. Scallops, clams, halibut, and shrimp — tasty. My biggest flub was not defrosting the frozen elements of it the night before. I also made a baked ziti, and served up (storebought) meatballs in (homemade) gravy. We didn’t need much for the main course since we always go nuts with appetizers on Christmas Eve.

I ended up cutting some things out. I didn’t make the pumpkin gingerbread trifle like I wanted to. I didn’t even try to go to Mass. And my parents graciously took the kids over their house for several hours during the day. All of this made for a very stress-free Christmas Eve. And, for the first time I can remember, all the kids’ gifts were wrapped ahead of time, so when the guests left, my husband and I had some eggnog, watched the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, brought the gifts out of hiding, and went to bed.

Right now, the younger kids are painting with their new set of paints, while I write. My oldest is carting the last of the pumpkins out to the compost. I was able to roast two today, but the rest are far gone with mold. I’d say five or six ended up wasted, so I’ll have to be sure to give more of them away next year.

I feel a little bit let down now, but I’m glad it was a pleasant Christmas season. Christmas Eve was really a good time. I just love to see my kids running around with their friends and their cousin. But I’m glad, also, that it’s over. I’m not quite sure what to do with myself this week. On the one hand, I could get a lot done if I tried. I have no obligations to get in the way. Could finish up a bunch of those half-done projects. In fact I already have done a bunch of things that had been lingering on the to-do list. On the other, I feel like I (we) should just take it easy. Color, paint, read, go for walks. A little of both, I guess. I have certainly been playing with the kids a lot, almost whenever they ask me. The Scrabble games are fun, but I’m sick of the Dream House already. (If she would just let me put furniture in it and hang up the Barbie clothes in the closet, I could get into it.)

Whatever we do, I don’t want to spend a lot. I have a spending hangover. I’m trying to get to 2016 without buying groceries.


Now it’s 8:30 pm, and I just remembered that nobody (husband) got me the book I wanted, by the Radical Homemaker. I’m going straight to Amazon and buying it. Merry Christmas to me.

Speaking of books, recently I’ve read (for free) “Aquarium” by David Vann and “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout. Both excellent. It was fun to picture Frances McDormand as Olive since I’d already seen the HBO miniseries. I have “The Buried Giant” by Kazuo Ishiguro on my nightstand, and I think it’s time to make some cocoa and start in on that.


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