How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE

My Hidden Scrooge

83 Comments


December is my least favorite time of year. To-date, I have crammed my freezer with food within a quarter inch of air circulation. The real crazy shopping hasn’t started yet. I’m limbering up for the big ordeal in grocery stores where people don’t usually run you down–almost never.

I don’t bake much these days to avoid yet another cookie slipping past my lips to take up comfortable residence on my hips. Now I bake enough for company and my grandkids and send left-overs home with anyone who will have them. No matter how well I’ve avoided sweets, my hips appear wider and softer, but also stiffer and less cooperative than in the recent past.

Back to my main topic. December isn’t a month with thirty-one days, it’s one long convoluted commercial, drowning out reason. Spend. Spend. Spend. Bloated Christmas lists are written and re-written. All the latest toys are at the top. These are not ‘needs’ but ‘must haves’. Mom and Dad buy every item on the list. Extended family members don’t have access to this stipulated compulsion, and must fend for themselves: more non-essential items; hard-earned dollars wasted. Grandparents are left to give gift certificates. ‘Tis the season for absurd spending.

Cars tailgate each other everywhere, roads and mall parking lots are crammed. Drivers, irate and impatient, circle round like vultures creating a new spot out of necessity. Inside stores, it’s a crash-cart bonanza; no apologies needed. Muttering customers resist eye contact; their mission is of utmost importance; nothing else matters

morguefile free photos

morguefile free photos

Long cash lines creep forward an inch and then another, whether there is room enough or not. Cashiers steal furtive glances at the time and wear pasted smiles. All this anxiety for one marketable day with plans already for another battle Royale come Boxing Day.

I read this morning Black Friday transactions outnumbered brick and mortar stores. Maybe the same will occur for this December’s gluttonous spree.

What’s happened to the true meaning of Christmas? I recall December 25th was about a special birth not a riot of envy to amass a mountain of presents underneath the tree.

In closing, I’d like to tell you a true story I heard some time ago about a different kind of Christmas. Young and old, you will shake your heads and sputter but, but…

A widower had six children of various ages up to fifteen; three girls and three boys. There was no extra money for gifts but the father makes a deal. They will have to do without something else, but they can have one gift. Smiles and elbowing ensue. The desired gift for all six: ice skates. Names go into a hat. Who will win? The pink team or the blue team?

A girl’s name wins the lucky draw. One pair of skates, mid-sized, is promised, which the girl must share as they don’t belong only to her. Next year, it will be the boys’ turn to choose, if the money can be found. They too will share one gift among them.

My heart melts as I watch the wonder in small children’s eyes: the glow of colored lights, the excitement, the anticipation, the innocence. I’m old fashioned enough to wish they would stay that way.

Blissful shopping to all and early Merry Christmas. May your credit cards survive the clink of Cha-ching, cha-ching. 

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Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

83 thoughts on “My Hidden Scrooge

  1. I so appreciated your sense of humor… I do hope though, some secret Santas bring you some surprises…. you deserve to rekindle your child’s excitement…In the meantime, you are keeping us focused on what is really important… Sue.
    womenlivinglifeafter50.com

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  2. Here! Here! Very well said. I am of the same mindset. Last year the lights and tree were up the day after Thanksgiving. Last year I had three rooms of company. Last year I did all of my Christmas shopping online, and had all the presents wrapped before the end of November. Everybody had tons of presents. The little ones could not enjoy one for grabbing at the next. I am trying not to be a scrooge, but I don’t even want to go that far this year. This year Santa is on strike.

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  3. You have driven me into a state of panic just reading and yes the pasted faces of the check out staff, thankfully I don’t possess a credit card ~ only spend what I have nothing more 🙂 The meaning of Christmas has changed sadly, the values~ all a money making day now ~ like all the ‘holidays’ I wish you an early Merry Christmas but I think somehow we shall be communicating further before the big day 🙂

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  4. A wonderful example of the true spirit of Christmas. Your thoughts are shared by many who realize that we do not want to be consumed by “things.” It is so much better to be embraced by the love of family and friends. I’m with you on the baking – I can’t say “no” to cookies.

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  5. Ha ha , love your smart humor. “…to avoid yet another cookie slipping past my lips to take up comfortable residence on my hips” GREAT. Yes, Christmas is such a commercial&consumption frenzy. In Germany, where my mom and sister live it’s the same…. But on the other hand, receiving (useful, good) presents is fun, isn’t it….

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  6. Hear, hear! I remember when I was young and Santa brought one very special gift (as well as putting an orange and some underwear in your stocking) – now kids write lists as long as their arm and complain if something they’ve asked for isn’t under the tree on Christmas morning. And the lists are crazy expensive things that most certainly fall on the ‘want’ side (not the ‘need’ side) of things. It seems the marketers are in charge these days and we’ve forgotten the ‘meaning of the season’. I’ve cut way back in recent years, but it’s still too much (and too long – some stores have Christmas displays up in mid-October). Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a solution to the madness. We each have to decide what works for us and our families (mine are adjusting to less every year).

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    • Here Christmas displays begin before Halloween. As soon as Thanksgiving (here: the second Monday in October) is out of the way, that’s when Halloween and Christmas fight for attention.

      I agree, we can chose how we celebrate. Thank you for contributing to this conversation. I have enjoyed it.

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  7. Love this post which sums up neatly what Christmas in the first world has become. Time do don your crash vest, Tess for the annual Christmas push cart derby and may the Clause be with you.

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  8. I agree, but yet I still love Christmas! It still makes me feel all warm and glowy. Yes, I spend far too much, I know I do. I love all the Christmas food and drink, and the kids getting excited. My daughter (14) and her group of friends are quite sensible, they do a secret santa thing amongst their group rather than all buying everyone else something, and even on birthdays, they’ll often bake each other a cake or something rather than buying a gift which I think is really nice (that’s not to say my daughter doesn’t give me a long list of expensive gifts she wants at Christmas of course!). Both my kids have their birthdays in December too, so it’s quite a month for us!

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  9. I do as much of the Christmas shoping as I can online and don’t use my credit card for presents, it’s for emergencies. The whole thing is bonkers and adds to the crazy amount of debt that so many families have. I set a limit that I can afford to spend on each person and that’s it. It makes me wonder where it will end, there is just so much greed Tess!

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  10. I’ve always loved December. Of course I’m also the person that doesn’t care for summer. December has always been a time for me to reflect on the year gone by and accept whatever new challenges come my way.

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  11. I try and stay out of the shops as much as I can over Christmas. Hate mauls at the best of times, but over the festive season it just gets crazy. As it is, I still have to get my sister’s kids something – I refuse to buy them toys. Think I’ll be the stinky aunt and get them clothes 😉
    My main thing now is the food – Christmas is at my house this year, so I’ll have to get what they will eat. Have no idea how I’m going to do that!!

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  12. Years ago when I was still a single mom I would do all of my Christmas shopping before the week of Thanksgiving Day. This included penning notes in greeting cards and stuffing them into envelopes and getting stamps on them. The Christmas season was a lot pleasanter back then. Yes, I’m a secret Scrooge too. I try to wait patiently for January 2nd.

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    • I just hate the over-spending and commercialization of the season. What happened to the meaning of Christmas. Anyway, now that I’m past my prime I appreciate life on different terms than when I was 20 and 30. *smiles*

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  13. I’m glad it’s not just me who lacks a fondness for December. Actually it starts around Thanksgiving. When I was a kid we didn’t do St. Nick so Christmas was Christmas. There was the pageant at church Christmas Eve, then home to bed. The tree wasn’t even up yet. Christmas morning my father would ever so slowly eat his breakfast while we kids (9 of us) waited with various degrees of patience depending on our age at the time. You see, until dad finished breakfast and gave the word, we weren’t allowed in the living room where the tree had miraculously appeared overnight. For a long time as an adult, I didn’t put up a single decoration until Christmas Eve. As for shopping, it’s one of my least favorite things to do normally. This time of year . . . ergh.

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    • My parents used to put up the tree on Christmas Eve as well, even after we all left home. That made it special not commercial, not keeping up with the neighbors, but keeping up tradition.

      We didn’t go crazy with gift giving either. Maybe that’s why we appreciated Christmas more. Spending time together because everyone lived away from each other.

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  14. It does seem to be far too commercialized. And everything is so frenzied. I tell myself I’ll pace myself and not scramble at the last minute, but there’s always something else to do. But them Christmas Eve comes, and the magic hits us. At least I still have that. 🙂

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  15. I’m with you, Tess. Won’t go near the malls in December. I am so fortunate to have creative offspring…Gill and L’il Sis gave me an hour’s session with an agent and writing advisor via Skype, one holiday they all upgraded my computer, we give acupuncture certificates, massages, passes to the pool at the Y. Saves a lot of hassle and all things are needed and appreciated. Actually, although I’m sure grandkids provide a great deal of pleasure, I’m grateful I don’t have to face the long lists and signs of creeping commercialism in young folks.

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  16. I feel like you on some days. And some days I love it. Years ago I worked in a store at Christmas time, and I have to say, most customers were great. People LIKE buying presents for the people they love. And they are happy to do it as long as the store helps minimize the stress.

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    • I still like a lot less spending and feeling obligated to buy a hundred dollar gift because you gave me one. I prefer simple. Call me old fashioned. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun opening a surprise but it’s so much better when well thought out. 😀

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  17. Spot on!
    Christmas would be so much easier if we didn’t see it coming! If you had one day to make (or even buy) a gift, fine. It’s the months of planning and rushing about, or feeling guilty that you haven’t started yet.

    As for the Christmas cookies in the stores in October…

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    • I’m disappointed how commercial and thoughtless Christmas has become.

      I like small ‘surprises’. Do the dishes for me. Wash my car. I’ll do something for you and in the meantime, let’s celebrate our time together. I also like to share FOOD. Thank you for adding to the conversation, Delft.

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  18. I’ve decided to destress. I asked David if I should bake…..he said NO. Good. If we need cookies I’ll go get them. Or buy the already made to bake kind. If I need to get a gift, I’ll try to get a gift that matters, not a gift that is popular. I want to be WITH Christmas spirit, not driven mad by what must be done.

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  19. I wish I could avoid another cookie slipping past my lips. On that happy thought (of the ten I ate today) I think I will go visit my treadmill.

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  20. some good reminders here Tess. you’ve already read how I feel about the holiday season. it really is important to dwell and seek out the true meaning of what should be a magical time of year. the gifts and spending…well, it can be fun too, but a lot of people get themselves in a real mess and spend the next year getting out of debt. That can’t be a good thing. 😦

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  21. So much truth and so much guilt on my part. I let it all get to me. Sadly my, now grown, children will never really experience Christmas like I did.

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    • So much has changed but we CAN start our own NEW (old) traditions.
      I simply hate all the overspending without thought about tomorrow.
      Instant gratification is also not a good example for our children and grandchildren.

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  22. I am not too fond of December either.

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  23. How about my favorite tradition – the office Secret Santa tradition where everyone writes a list of exactly what they want and then acts surprised when the list-gift shows up (wrapped, yet!) or is angry when a true surprise appears. (That wasn’t on my list!) I think we should each buy our own gift and just open them in front of each other, exclaiming with delight over the perfect purchase – “Oh look what I bought myself!” More honest, don’t you think?

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    • Ha ha. Like your idea. I wish we would only give ‘little’ gifts. Maybe, a credit for help for someone in need, of a gas card for mother, or a grocery gift card. Either of these would make me happy.
      I hate waste, especially of money that should not be squandered. Nobody thinks about tomorrow anymore.

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  24. Well said my dear, well said. Tis the Season to be stingy, might be my motto. Having worked a register during the Holiday season, Black Friday included, while putting my daughter thru college, I can assure you there is nothing jolly or holly about it. Your depiction was scary accurate. Now off to the comment you made, wasn’t this supposed to be about a certain birth? Well that’s what we we’re taught as well. Yet here in the good ole’ U.S.A. the Walmart employees are no longer aloud to say Merry Christmas because of the fact that it contains Christ’s name in the holiday greeting which has now been changed to Happy Holidays. As for me and mine, we’ll shop online, stay outta stores and be wishing you & yours a VERY, MERRY CHRISTMAS!! 🙂 Excellent post!!

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    • I like gifts. I’m not dead yet. Nothing like a lovely trinket at Christmas. I just don’t believe in going crazy like the world seems to think.

      Yeah, I know. We haven’t been able to say Merry Christmas for years. When I worked, we sent Christmas cards to customers. I had to be careful to choose those that said Happy Holidays. I ask you, “Whose country is it anyway?”
      Thank you for contributing to this important conversation. 😀

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  25. You’ve summed the season up perfectly here, Tess.

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  26. It’s a shame that so many don’t really get into the spirit. I don’t mean shopping and such. For me this time of years is more about the festivities and being with loved ones. We don’t even exchange gifts anymore. We’d rather spend time together and make wonderful memories. Not go into debt.

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  27. Exactly! So well written! I feel the same panic as you Tess, I’m so behind…my freezer is usually stocked high by now but remains empty although at least I am at the list, sub-list and sub-sub-list stage 😉 We press on regardless!!

    I love the way you capture how things are ‘out there’ at this time of year and how we seem to have forgotten the real ‘reason for the season’. Thanks for sharing the story at the end. It really does get things into perspective.

    And as for the credit cards surviving the cha-ching cha-ching, the less said about that the better…

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  28. You have so captured it. I don’t have grandkids yet, so happily avoid the spending sprees. My husband and I buy household items for each other. This year, it’s a dishwasher. How romantic. There’s nothing I want! and when I do, I buy it without waiting for Christmas.

    I love that you bravely use the C word. What happens when we’re all gone, Tess?

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    • I know. If everyone else can keep their culture when they come to this strange country, why can’t we keep ours?

      If you go to other countries, you must follow THEIR culture and traditions. Why can’t we be allowed to do the same? Are we giving in? Will this ‘fairness’ show us as weak?

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  29. Great post!

    Thank you.

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  30. I actually love, love, love Christmas! I didn’t have any Christmases (except for one pathetic one as a child) when I was growing up, and I love everything about it. I suppose the Christmas image of me isn’t totally accurate in that I don’t shop in the malls (all on line), and we have a limited budget for all the family members, but the entire family comes for a week, and our major Christmas presents are family experiences together, eating all our meals together, watching great movies together, and playing games. It is awesome. I suppose Christmas is just an excuse to throw a week-long party. 🙂

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  31. Ah, Christmas cookies. I think baked goods are a wonderful present from the heart esp in these times of stressed budgets. I may be the last person on earth that thinks fruitcake is a wonderful gift. I loooooooooove fruitcakes soaked in honey. Thanks visit my blog. Holiday regards.

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  32. I too detest the over shopping, overcrowded, overspending spirit that has taken over Christmas. I think as we get older, we long for simpler times! It makes one want to stop the holiday train so we can leave all the madness behind! And spread some good ole Christmas cheer saying “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

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Some things in life are complicated. Let's keep it simple.

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