"And..." you're an idiot. Seriously.
The Sage says it in love. The Sage also says, in love, that if you spend $150 on your kid for Christmas when you don't have $150, you're not only giving your kid a neat-o Nano, you're giving your kid a gift that keeps on giving: The gift of foolishness, surrounded by beautiful lights, the scent of pine, and fudge. The gift of foolishness, on display, etched in memory. Ah.
Yes, Target and Apple and Best Buy don't advertise many $30 gifts, and they've ratcheted up the expectation level for Christmas. But -- last time I checked -- your will remains free. This means you don't have to be an idiot.
Yes, your parents may have overspent every year as you grew up. Yes, they may have been Baby Boomers, seeking to atone for parental guilt, for one or another reason. Yes, there may have been stacks of presents under your tree. Yes, you think this is way Christmas "is supposed to be".
Yes, so what.
Christmas is not "supposed to be" you, buying stuff you don't have money for. Sorry. If you're a dad, and feel bad because you can't spend hundreds on everybody, tell them you don't have the money for it, and you'll still have a great Christmas. If that makes you feel bad, man up. You're being bullied by a bunch of advertising majors.
Gee, you're in debt? How'd that happen? This is a mystery. Someone call a C.S.I. unit. Maybe they can figure out what happened. Maybe they can piece it together.
Or maybe you bought a bunch of crap. Maybe you should stop it. Maybe Christmas isn't special at all. Maybe it's just the latest excuse to overspend. Gee. Huh. Wow. Gosh. You think?
"Okay, we're in debt, and yeah, we did buy a $1,200 TV, but it's not that simple, because sometimes --"
No, it is that simple. Sorry. Next?
"But everyone at my kids' school gets tons of expensive gifts like 360s and Wiis and stuff and -- " Are you in debt? "Well, yes, but it's not that simple, and -- "
Nope. It's that simple.
"But it's not realistic to spend only $20 per person in this day and age, and -- " Why? "It's just not that simple, and -- "
If you don't have the money for it, you don't buy it. Don't act like your kid "needs" a Zune, either. It has nothing to do with "needs", or even your kid, really. It has everything to do with you: Your desire to have some kind of "perfect Christmas", your guilt, your insecurities, your conflict-avoidance, your expectations, and you know, just generally...you.
Bottom line: You wish you a merry Christmas.
"But didn't the 'wise men' bring GOLD to baby Jesus? And fancy myrrh and stuff? That was extravagant, and -- " They were royalty. You think they used a Discover Card?
"But isn't 'Christmas' in the Bible, and -- " No.