Column: Auntie Says… Beware the Christmas Hangover

Well, it’s that time of year again. The shift to advent calendars, winter coats and twinkling lights. It can mean only mean one thing — Christmas is coming and it’s coming fast.

It’s a time to celebrate, and after every celebration, there’s always the cleanup. When the party is the whole Christmas season, the clean up entails incoming bills, crappy weather, and a long stretch before the next break. That impending Christmas hangover is something you want to keep in mind, and perhaps even try to avoid — or at least lessen to some extent.

Do you remember what you got for Christmas last year? How about what you gave your kids or family? If you’re anything like me, you have to really search your memory for the answer.

It’s crazy, isn’t it? We spend so much time and money to find what we think of as the perfect gift but the memory of it is often fleeting. So with that in mind, try to keep the spending and expectations realistic. Make a list and do your best to stick to it. And if money is an issue, homemade is really chic right now and can be especially special.

Buying and spending can get out of hand quickly and can have devastating effects on credit ratings and cash flow. It’s really important to be conscious and alert when you shop. You don’t want to still be paying for the girlfriend’s expensive necklace the following summer or, heaven forbid, after you’ve already broken up.

And then there’s the seduction of online shopping. You can do it all hours, don’t need to get dressed, and no one is watching or judging. How many times have you found yourself scrolling through an online site, adding things to your basket without even thinking about it? Hey, I’ve been there. One time, I got a call to pick up a package that I didn’t even remember ordering. It was a lesson for me and ended up being my last impulsive order as I forced myself to become a more attentive online shopper.

The first thing is, don’t link a credit or debit card to your online shopping accounts. When you go to check out, if the card is linked, it’s waaaaay too easy to just push ‘complete purchase’ without so much as another thought. Set it up so you need to input the information every time. Having to do this can break the spell of the mindlessness. Keep your card in a place where you need to actually get up to retrieve it, again breaking what I call the zombie zone.

Maybe even put on a timer and refuse to check out until you’ve reviewed the order and walked away for an hour or so. I usually give myself 24 hours and often don’t go back and actually complete the order. Think about the practicality of what you’re buying. Did you get what you were looking for? Did you unintentionally buy yourself a bunch of stuff because it was there? Did you shop for yourself when you were actually shopping for a gift for someone else?

Hangovers also occur with over-eating, excessive drinking or smoking, or even the fact that you’re on holiday. Hibernating for two days, or two weeks, and then having to plug back into life can be a real drag too. Sometimes just being aware is enough but it’s also about finding some balance.

Try not to make the season about excess instead make it a time about showing up. What does that look like? Hmmm… let me finish my Nanaimo bar and butter tart and I’ll let you know.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the south Okanagan. She can be reached at faye.arcand@icloud.com or www.fayeearcand.com

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