Whether you're attempting to resist or embracing it fully, now is a materialistic time of year. There's just no escaping it. For the last few years, I've found myself getting a little down about what to buy everyone for Christmas: no one seems to need anything, and anything they do want, tends to be quite beyond my means. After much pondering, I haven't really worked out a solution, and yet again I am vexed about what to do when it comes to gifts (making gifts for everyone is a pipe-dream - I have neither the time, nor the energy). The children are the exception - I have no trouble thinking of things they would enjoy - and my only problem is reigning myself in before the credit card implodes and/or they turn into spoiled brats.
Anyway, it is most definitely a time to ponder the haves and the have nots. It seems to me that the culture of compare and contrast amongst parents is not just consigned to our kids' achievements and our approaches to parenting, but extends out to who has what and how much. I am guilty of this. I still can't fathom how anyone can afford to do extensive renovations to their house, or run two, huge cars. I wish we had enough savings to build a small veranda on the front of our house and to install solar panels. I'd like to buy decent furniture and not just settle for Ikea every single time, because it is so bloody cheap and looks vaguely presentable. It would be nice to not feel so bad about the cost of going to the hairdresser that despite it being more than a year since my last visit, I ask my husband to trim off the split ends. But, we have made our choices and they were led by ideals and not practicality, and I'm happy with that. I remember, as a child, thinking we must be poor because we didn't have a microwave and our television was tiny and second-hand. It was only years later that I realised the reason for this was that my parents just didn't think those things were important: they choose to spend their money on other things, which they valued more highly.
A few days ago, someone asked me what I would like for Christmas. At the time I couldn't think of anything, but what I'd really like is for my husband to work a little less, to have some more time to myself, and to possess enough energy to be and do all that I want. Those are the things I really covet in other people's lives.