December is upon us and there are only a few days left before Christmas. The year’s last month is a synonym for party and fun. But, it also means spending more money than planned.
This time of the year means extra spending, that due to stress, sometimes do not register in our budget, and then we have problems.
For many, this is the most magical time of the year. Although the Christmas season and all of the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that come along with it are undeniably magical.
As each Christmas season comes and goes the behind-the-scenes prep gets more exciting than the actual holiday itself.
Weird facts about the season
Let us start by stating that although this is a magical moment during the year there are several facts that tend to be weird for many.
Many European countries believed that spirits, both good and evil, were active during the Twelve Days of Christmas. These spirits eventually evolved into Santa’s elves, especially under the influence of Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas.
Odin is one precursor to the modern Santa. According to myth, Odin rode his flying horse, Sleipnir (a precursor to Santa’s reindeer), who had eight legs. In the winter, Odin gave out both gifts and punishments, and children would fill their boots or stockings with treats for Sleipnir.
Norwegian scientists have hypothesized that Rudolph’s red nose is probably the result of a parasitic infection of his respiratory system. The Germans made the first artificial Christmas tree. According to the Guinness world records, the tallest Christmas tree ever cut was a 221-foot Douglas fir that was displayed in 1950 at the Northgate Shopping Center in Seattle, Washington. The traditional three colors of Christmas are green, red, and gold. Christmas trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.
Different strokes for different folks
Wherever we go, we start seeing houses, malls, and public spaces decorated with snow, fairy lights, stockings, and Christmas trees.
Each country has its own unique way of celebrating this holiday, ranging from common traditions to unusual ones. Some of those involve dishes or treats that only appear once a year. Others give gifts that carry a particular meaning, and still others decorate in a particular way, hold festivals, parades or parties to ring in the season.
Pickles in trees. This is widely practiced in Germany. It is the act of hiding a pickle in the branches of a Christmas tree. The idea is that whoever in a household finds it first will receive a present.
Christmas sauna. One of the most relaxing Christmas traditions around the world would have to belong to Finland, thanks to their tradition of going to the sauna. The majority of Finns have saunas installed in their homes, and there is a good explanation for why this is. They believe that inside the saunas lives a sauna elf, also known as a saunatonttu.
KFC for Christmas dinner, this is what ahppens in Japan. In Netherlands, Santa Claus is called Sinterklaas. In Greece, decorating Christmas trees and boats has been popular for centuries.
Giant Lantern Festival. Since Roman Catholics make up about 80% of the population of the Philippines, Christmas is observed by almost all of the country’s citizens. This takes place in San Fernando, Pampanga, where a barrage of colossal lanterns with different patterns are on display.
Argentines start decorating their houses from the first days of December and celebrate this holiday by gathering on Christmas Eve to enjoy their famous asados.
Christmas in Mexico has a great variety of traditions, one of them, the posadas, which are processions in which they look for inns where the baby Jesus is born, or the day of the Three Wise Men in which the Rosca de Reyes is eaten.
Christmas in Colombia begins on the Night of the Candles on the evening of December 7, when the country is illuminated with candles (día de las velitas) and lanterns and the Novena de Aguinaldos begins in which families gather to pray during the nine days before Christmas.
Buying stops being fun: problem
When you’re a kid, each toy seems like do or die more than the last. You know you’ve grown up when you begin to think about your Christmas list and realize nothing is a necessity, just a want.
The last month of the year is the perfect opportunity for stores to put everything on sale and to get more customers. However, this can be a trap for people who are compulsive buyers.
When buying stops being a “fun” activity and it becomes a necessity it is possible that we are dealing with a shopping addiction.
And, even if it sounds strange, shopping addiction affects lost of people. So the first thing is to understand what the problem is.
Compulsive buying disorder is also known as oniomania or dhoppingmania. It basically is when a person can not control their impulses that lead to purchasing things.
Young people are at most risk. And, as such we mean teenagers because they are in a transition period were social acceptance is vastly important. So, during the teenage years and women are at greater risk, specially so if they have enough means to buy things.
This disorder may affect people who are near their forty years. They are usually people with enough money to spend.
This disorder is characterized by stress related to shopping and the irresistible need of buying in large amounts, anxiety and irritability. After going in a series of shopping sprees lots of people end up owing large sums of money.
Pleasure in our addictions
One of the biggest problems is that we all experience pleasure in our addictions.
December is one of the most delicate moments of the year for someone who suffers from compulsive buying disorder.
Given all the technological changes, shopping addiction has changed. Meaning that Internet has given people the possibility of acquiring things that they did not have access. Online shopping is increasing dangers.
Even if it seems strange or excessive there are a few people who do their Christmas shopping a few months in advance. And as such, they avoid long waiting lines or not being able to buy their desired gift.
So, making lists and planning is essential to survive this time of the year. Unnecessary spending may be avoided this way.
Another huge problem is related to credit cards. Some people spend so much and they forget that at the end they will have to pay an excessive amount.
The best advice is to save and to organize the money needed for Christmas shopping. Many people don’t understand this, spend more than they can and become addicted and broke in the process.
Christmas is meant to be the best day of the year. So it’s hard not to fall into the trap of setting huge expectations – meaning you’ll feel horribly stressed and underwhelmed.
Someone once said to me, that most people have a miserable time at Christmas. This highlights the hype and the reality for many people.
Spending time with family over the Christmas period can re-ignite old difficulties and familiar patterns of relating. And any cracks in your relationships, deepen as you spend a greater amount of time together.
So, although its a huge task. Almost an impossible one you should try your best to stay away from conflict, emotional topics and minimize contact with people who don’t understand the need to distance yourself from abusive family dynamics.
Alliviating the disappointment
Aim for “enjoyable” not “perfect” and remember that things and moments are not meant to be perfect.
Recognise that being together 24/7 witrh people may cause tensions.
Don’t feel guilty if you need some time out for yourself. It is crucial to decide how involved and accommodating your plans should be well in advance, and make your limits known to others involved.
So. find time for yourself. Remember that you are not a recreationist. Your job is not to organize activities for your family and friends.
Holiday expectations are significant contributors to the sense that you are imbalanced. It’s understandable if the holidays make you squeamish, don’t feel guilty.
You don’t have to wait until the first week of the year to plan how you’ll emotionally survive winter.