The chaos of Christmas inevitably extends to post-Christmas madness. But let’s first savour the memory of yesterday. Ah, yes Christmas time. Young children anticipate this time of the year – will Santa come? Have I been good enough? When I stole my sister’s candy cane, was Santa watching? It’s a time of presents too! Did I get what I asked for in my letter?
For most parents, it’s a time of stress – will the toys that little Jessica or Tommy asked for still be in stock? The traffic on the roads, the crowd of people in the shops, the long queues! For those in the Northern Hemisphere, there’s the cold to brave outside, the slippery footpaths. In the Southern Hemisphere, the heat inevitably leads to lots of irritated people when crowded together in a confined space. Don’t forget the Christmas feast – the ham, turkeys, fruits, candies and chocolates and alcohol! It is noisy, it is chaotic and sometimes it’s also smelly!
Of course, all of these could have been avoided but alas, you came across that post only AFTER Christmas.
All is not lost. So you’ve made many unwise decisions with your money PRE-Christmas. You can learn from this for POST-Christmas money decisions. But first, let’s be reminded of how Christmas has turned out to some people.
Children and adults excitedly rip open their presents ….
For the children, the first present they open is the best one. They have waited for weeks, watching those lovingly-wrapped presents under the tree, guessing what’s inside and counting down the days to rip the wrapping off. On the day itself, the first present they open is finally the gratification from all that delay! The first present our children open on Christmas Day is also usually the most rewarding experience for us. The excitement on their faces on opening their first present is priceless. The children squeal with delight when they open their first present.
Their enthusiasm slowly diminishes with each successive present. Eventually, an entitlement attitude replaces enthusiasm. Where is the toy train that I wrote on the list? And the car that I wanted? The doll? Cue the tantrums. I really really REALLY wanted the $500 item (in fact, it was first on the list). They toss aside Grandma’s knitted sweater in favour of a Lego set, without so much as glancing at the sweater. Cue the disappointed adults. They toss aside the Lego set within 5 minutes, in favour of Thomas the Tank Engine. The children become bolder in their expectations and more agitated when the next parcel they rip open falls short of that expectation.
And the cost of all these chaos ….
According to news today, $620million is spent on Christmas presents this year (2016). Of this, 7 out of 10 presents end up being resold online. To make thing worse, 65% admitted to buying ‘not so suitable’ presents to give to other people. This doesn’t include the group of people who can’t be bothered reselling online and re-gift the presents instead.
Let’s pause for a moment. Let me get this right. We rush around for days and weeks in the lead-up to Christmas to try and find the ‘perfect’ present for at least 10 people on our list. And then 7 of them don’t really want those gifts? We fluster and stress over the perfect meal that the children won’t eat because they’ve stuffed their faces with the candy canes and chocolates since breakfast.
Is it just me or is this madness?
The Madness continues post-Christmas
Boxing Day sales. If Christmas hasn’t broken the bank, many people get into debt hangover post-Christmas as they chase the post-Christmas bargains. The madness in trying to find the ‘perfect’ present for someone else has morphed into madness in buying the ‘perfect’ present for ourselves.
We still have time to put an end to all this spending and cherish what’s left of the year. Before we rush out to buy another item on those post-Christmas sales, take stock of what you ALREADY have at home. You have enough jeans. Unless you have not bought a new pair for at least 2 years, you do not need another pair of jeans. You have enough tools and gadgets. Unless you have damaged the tools from years of tinkering in the shed, you do not need another hammer. You have enough makeup. Remember you only have one face. Unless you haven’t bought any makeup in the past 12 months and you use make-up every day, you do not need more makeup.
Need more reasons to stop the madness?
Your children are observing all of this. Your children are absorbing the messages around what you are doing at this time of the year. They are already absorbing the message of other people binge-shopping on Boxing Day. Do you really need to add to that message? When it’s their turn to experience this madness, how will you educate them if you can’t demonstrate wise decisions to them?
Let’s end this madness for our young children – do NOT expose young children to post-Christmas sales for as long as possible. When they are teenagers and find out about post-Christmas sales on their own, their good money habits will tell them whether to join the stampede or watch with amusement from afar.
We have made unwise decisions in the lead-up to Christmas. Let’s not continue making those unwise decisions.