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Shelly says “never again” to unwanted gift-giving at Christmas!

“Dear Akwasi

“Can you help me budget for Christmas? I am sick of spending half the following year catching up with my overspending. Christmas last year was spent at mine. I ended up overspending by loads! But did I enjoy it? Not really, if I’m honest. So what’s the point of overspending and ending up having a lousy time anyway?

“My best friend, who was having marital problems, had asked me at the last minute whether she could spend Christmas day with us, which was quite unusual because Christmas is traditionally a small, family-only affair. But what could I say? “No?” So of course she came over; trouble is that she has three brats. So they had to be included in the unwanted-gift-giving. And to ensure that the brats felt loved, included and welcome, I made a special effort and bought the two boys what I thought was the latest funky electronic gadget only to hear one whisper to his brother that it was the old model and that his mate had the new model which was much, much wickeder. I was crushed.

“Knowing how fussy seven year old princesses can be, I spared no expense and bought their sister a gorgeous designer lilac roll-neck jumper. When she tried it on she couldn’t remove it fast enough! Apparently, it was “itchy”. So it was chucked in a corner and she continued to stuff her fat little face with cake. I was bitter.

“Did they reciprocate? Like hell they did. A twenty-five quid hamper “from their family to ours” was it. So they accepted their individual expensive goods with, “Oh, thanks”, false smiles and no genuine eye contact. They came, ate, drank, took their loot and left. Never again!

“It’s just as bad being on the receiving end of unwanted-gift-giving. My Dad bought me a pack of three dreadful polka-dot silk-ish scarves that a clown would refuse to wear. It was obvious that they had been panic-bought. The following January, he bumped into me on my way to work and noticed that I was wearing a proper scarf and had the nerve to ask me why I wasn’t wearing one of his! Not one to hurt the feelings of family, I managed to convince him that I was saving them for a special occasion.

“My brother is a disgrace at Christmas. If he could simply opt out of it all he would. He always claims he’s flat broke and we’re all stupid enough to believe him.  Last Christmas, he bought everyone second hand books, even though he has a high powered, highly paid, city job. Mine had handwritten notes all over it and the previous owner had used a highlighter pen on almost every page!

“My Mum is great at Christmas. Her gifts are always inexpensive but just so thoughtful. She puts money aside for Christmas so that by the beginning of November, she’s got her Christmas budget sorted out. All her gifts are bought, wrapped and labelled nice and early, so she has ample time to enjoy any festivities.

“In writing this to you, I think I have answered my own questions. I just need to be more like my Mum and be well organised and prepared for what without doubt is the most expensive part of the year. I mean, when you go away on holiday, you make sure you have enough money, right? Surely, it’s the same with Christmas! That’s it. Next year, I’ll get it right.


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