Today’s podcast episode is brought to you by the reason for the season: Bitchmas. Second only to Candlenights in the pantheon of winter holidays, Bitchmas is a time to gather your loved ones, exchange hyperbolic gifts, and rally the troops for economic equality and social justice.
No questions shall be answered in the Bitchmas episode (except perhaps “What will these lunatics think up next?”), but we promise it’ll be worth it. We’ve got shout-outs to our patrons! Odes to the finest bitches in personal finance media! Gifts for all and sundry! And… a very special guest!
As we discussed earlier this month, shopping for holiday gifts can be… well, sucky. As often as it’s fun, it’s stressful and financially draining.
But if you’ve been paying attention to our RADICALSOCIALJUSTICEWARCRIES, you won’t be surprised to hear that we’re pretty conflicted about holiday gift-giving in general. Specifically, our gripe is with the hyped-up mass commercialization and the endless push to consume.
Tokens and gestures of kindness give us a seasonal thrill—I mean, we’re not totally dead inside! Merely partially! But when you hate consumerism, it can be really hard to participate in the good parts of the tradition without feeling like you’ve lost touch with your own values.
Anti-consumerism is a lake fed by many rivers. Mindless consumption is bad for people, bad for the planet, bad for your wallet, and rote and impersonal. Some people care a lot about one or two of those aspects more strongly than others. If only there was some kind of helpful venn diagram that broke down anti-consumerist attitudes about gift giving…
Oh wait! Silly me, I’m a graphic designer! I’m paid to eat data and shit venn diagrams!
Keep in mind that this does not include airfare to visit family, food and drink for large gatherings, donations to charity, holiday decorations, or other common yuletide purchases. That’s just the gifts.
Given that a majority of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover a $500 emergency, it’s hardly surprising that a majority of Americans also go into debt to buy Christmas gifts.
This indicates there is a startling cognitive dissonance around Christmas. Our cultural scripts constantly remind us that gifts are unnecessary, that the true spirit of the season is love. Yet so many of us martyr ourselves financially to be able to give each other yet more stuff.
It’s hard to push back against the weight of tradition, but the results are well worth the effort. We Bitches, using different systems, have managed to make the last several winter holidays a stress-free, debt-free season. Here are our secrets.
“There is only one fruitcake in the entire world and people keep passing it around.” Ah, Johnny Carson’s ole’ traveling fruitcake story. So ancient and apocryphal it took significant googling to uncover its origins.
It’s a perfect example of the holiday season’s most notorious social faux pas: regifting.
Regifting is considered tacky and thoughtless: the worst version of “being cheap.” If you regift, it means a) you were too lazy to go out and buy a new gift for someone, b) you didn’t actually appreciate the gift in the first place, and c) you care so little about the giftee that you won’t even spend a little money on a personalized gift for them.
I’m here to propose a new way of looking at the practice of regifting. In fact, I think it can be an economical, creative, waste-free, and considerate way of bestowing presents upon your loved ones.
Yes, I am of course an uncouth and cold-hearted shrew. But I’m also an uncouth and cold-hearted shrew with a damn good point… and a damn fat wallet.
I thought it would be fun to write a seasonal Thanksgiving article. You know—How to Save Money on Your Thanksgiving Menu! or something like that. But I cannot write that article for you, or anything remotely like it.