I can hear the response now and it sometimes goes like this: "I like my Christmas season just the way it is and if I overspend, well, I can catch up in the first three months of the new year." Sadly, I just read a good article on that subject in a financial periodical and it estimates that a majority of those who overspent still have some of last year's expenses on their credit card balance. So much for that issue.
But that's really not the point here, but it is a sad fact. However, what if we solved the problem by not spending so much money on "stuff" but investing some of our time to do something good for others, those who are not likely to have a Merry Christmas due to the many problems they might face. We could volunteer some time like these two ladies with the Salvation Army, an organization that likely leads the pack in using the resources gained for their primary mission. We could spend some time working in a soup kitchen at a church or other helping hand organization. Then there is the simple task of visiting someone we know who is sick or lonely, maybe a bedridden soul or an elderly lady from our church who no longer can physically attend services. She would certainly love to see someone other than the pastor to visit with her. What if we committed one or two days of our time over the Christmas season to do such things? It might really surprise you.
I remember as a younger man when I was the adult leader of our church youth group and the time we spent an evening visiting nursing homes to sing Christmas carols and just spend a few moments with some of the residents. Many of them had relatives who just didn't visit any longer and the smiles on their faces as they listened to the singing and got a chance to see young people again was truly magical. We did it several more years because it was received so well but, more than that, the young people felt pride in knowing that they had given something of themselves for no reason other than love and good will.
And as far as the other issue, that of spending goes, here's a way to accomplish what is needed and leave money left over for other things. Try limiting the gift giving within your family to one gift per person. We started doing that years ago and we found it made such good sense. For what people really want is time. Time with one another to share, love and enjoy each other's company. If we put the effort into that, and less into the ordeal of trying to outdo each other and what we can give and get, the true Spirit of Christmas will rise to the occasion. You'll feel better, you wallet will still be of use and I truly think God will be smiling down on you, particularly when he sees you heading out on your "meals on wheels detail," passing out "toys for tots," or spending time with a young child in the hospital dying of cancer. The more you give of yourself with love and care, the more you get in return for Christmas. It's not the material things, it's the feeling you get when you open your heart.
Try it, I think you'll find that you'll not only like it, but love it and the returns will be many fold in ways that you'll never believe could be true. God bless you all.