Well the end of 2010 is nigh and the retail world is working overtime trying to convince us all to buy more and more things that we neither need nor want. I find the constant onslaught of "Cheap Cheap!", "Free bonus!", etc making me more like Ebeneezer each year. The meaning of Christmas has long since gone out the window. For some reason the irony that the person you are giving the present to will likely know they were purchased "cheap cheap" or were that "free bonus" is not appreciated.
The ultimate cost saving is the emerging trend of "regifting". How many of you have received a gift that was given to the giver last Christmas I wonder? Great way to declutter, but there are a few details to pay attention to e.g. check the expiry dates on collections of jams etc, 12 months is a long time in the life of a jam!. If you are going to regift make sure you know who gave it to you in the first place. Could be embarrassing all around if you don't!
To me Christmas is first and foremost about sharing. The memory of a nicely written card often lasts longer than the memory of the present that came with it. I like to make things to share a little of myself with others. Sure I am lucky to have the tools and the skills to craft toys for my grandchildren - toys that will likely be unique. I am also lucky I can make things in my kitchen that can be shared. These things don't cost very much to make, postage and packaging usually cost more than the "ingredients", but I like to think their value is high. Maybe I am showing my age, but there is something special about the anticipation of waiting to find out what is inside that big box all wrapped up in brown paper and tied up with string. Or in wondering what that chutney will taste like when I get the lid off the jar.
It is very easy to get disillusioned at this time of year and we need to step back and take a deep breath. Don't let the commercial prostitution of Christmas turn you into a Scrooge. As an aside, it is interesting to note old Ebeneezer was a Banker/money lender; more give, less take - we've nabbed you! Focus instead on sharing with those around you, on acknowledging and savouring your friendships, professional and personal. Therein lies the joy of Christmas.
I wish you all the very best for the festive season. Travel well, party well, remain safe.