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All I want for Christmas is to opt out of the craziness.

I’ve been around long enough to remember a time when Christmas meant Mandarin oranges and new socks, and maybe a small gift. It’s not that I’m THAT old, as in not Depression-old! It’s just we didn’t have a lot of money and there were 5 of us for Mum and Dad to account for.

Over the years, I’ve watched the meaning of Christmas become more about over-spending, one-upping and making sure you gift the newest, coolest items on the market.

More recently I have begun to opt out of the frenetics.

I have been buying excellent chocolate in small packages for drop-in guests (then in January I get a lovely treat I’d rarely buy myself if I have more chocolates than drop-ins!). I buy lovely wines for dear friends. For my adult children, I bought weekend passes to a local music festival that we can attend together.

This year, however, I am drawing a line in the sand.

I have recently down-sized and relocated. My children all make reasonable salaries and I no longer have any idea what their tastes are. I can’t afford their “needs” (I mean, really! One daughter could do with a new vehicle for herself, her family, her menagerie, her commute and those summer camping trips… that’s a situation she needs to figure out for herself even if I had the bank account!).

My grandson was born on December 25th so he gets SOOO much stuff from everyone… and his new step-great-nana loves to spend money on him.

While the adults in the extended family mostly get dropped off my Christmas list, I do like to recognize the great-nieces and -nephew… but their numbers are growing, they are growing and I only see them a few times each year. I don’t have a clue what to put in a gift bag for them.

Enter charitable giving. There are so many people, animals, causes that could do with a few extra dollars… that need the money way more than anyone I know needs more “stuff”.

So here’s my Christmas list this year:

Three adult children and their partners: Plan Canada will be sending live stock and medical supplies to a developing country in your name. You’re welcome. (


Great-nieces and -nephew: Rescue donkeys Nova and Julio will receive a sponsorship in your name. You’ll meet them via their bios and certificates when I give you your Christmas cards. They don’t live too far away so maybe sometime this year your parents could take you round for a visit. ( I’m hoping you enjoy this concept as much as Tav did when his Auntie sponsored Hoss for him last year!


Grandson: You know what you’re getting this year because you chose it! A goat for a village via Plan Canada. Good choice! As for your birthday… same as last year: a small deposit into your bank account that you get to spend any way you please on your summer vacation!

There you have it.

All my secrets poured out on to a public page!

If you find Christmas stressful for any reason, or find that your money doesn’t go as far as it used to, or you experience a small twinge of disappointment as your gift gets tossed aside in favour of the bigger shinier gift… then consider spending your money in areas where it is always appreciated. You can spend an evening on Google looking for charities that support causes you believe in… no matter what you believe in. Your gift will be appreciated for its uniqueness on Christmas Day! And if it’s not, doesn’t matter… the cause does truly appreciate you!!

There are so many expectations around the Christmas season: we are all supposed to be joyous and loving and forgiving and sober. For many people, that just isn’t the reality. So I recommend you remove the pressures you have control over and donate your money to your favourite cause!

The extra bonus here is that you are less likely to succumb to the impulse purchases that malls and stores entice you to make!

I love this Spanish proverb:

How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward.