Christmas vs. Wedding (or spending vs. saving)

Well it’s December already (how did that happen so fast?) and with it comes the Christmas overload. Merchants everywhere all desperately trying to get your holiday dollars, advertising insisting you must buy this or that latest gadget for someone on your list, and holiday music, everyone’s favourite, now fills almost every store you enter.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas- and I’m not even Christian. My belief system aside, I just like to celebrate the season with family and friends. I grew up where there was always snow at Christmastime, and those fond childhood memories of making snowmen, drinking hot apple cider, going for horse-drawn sleigh rides, trimming the tree, and expectantly waiting for Santa Claus, will forever live on in my heart.

Currently however, I live on the West Coast, where there is no snow, or sleigh rides, and I don’t expect Santa will make a visit to my apartment this year (there’s no chimney after-all). As an adult I’ve come to enjoy giving gifts more than receiving them, but this year I have a dilemma. I’m trying to save any extra money I earn for, you guessed it, my wedding.

Of course, my immediate family is aware of this situation, so I don’t think they will have high expectations of me that I fall short of. In fact, I don’t think my parents have ever had high expectations of the gifts they would receive from their children, that’s just not how we roll in my family. What makes the season special is spending time together, sharing meals, singing carols (we love that stuff) and getting out into that winter wonderland for some variety of ice skating, tobogganing, cross-country skiing, or just a magical walk in the snow. I can repeat all this to myself a hundred times a day, but I still feel bad.

Normally I spend a few hundred dollars getting gifts for all my loved ones. I’m also still a fan of sending Christmas cards to my extended family. This year however, between saving for the wedding and living on a student loan (that has currently run out entirely, next installment January) I have exactly zero dollars to spend on gifts.

What does this mean exactly? Well, Captain Visa to-the-rescue for one, but it’s also forcing me to be more creative with my holiday spending and constantly remind myself that it’s not the gift that counts as much as the giving.

I am actually really looking forward to the holidays this year, all my self-consciousness aside. Firstly, I get two whole weeks off this year because I’m a student, and after four months of six days a week, I need a break. Also, my brother and his wife are flying home from Philadelphia, and we haven’t spend Christmas together for eight years. In fact, I will be celebrating with all my closest family at some point over the holidays, and all with my fiance.

I am also looking forward to sending out our save-the-date magnets in our Christmas cards. Thankfully, we got an incredible return customer deal from Vistaprint (and the cards are on recycled paper) so we could easily afford to do it this way. In this way, we are combining our wedding with the spirit of Christmas and sharing it with all our friends and family across the country.

On Christmas day, will it matter to my Dad that his gift only cost me $10? Or will he just be happy to have me there for dinner? I think the visit means more.

I know I’m not the only bride-to-be struggling with this, what’s your story?


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