There is no doubt I found fun things to do in every month of the year! I didn’t have elaborate vacations or a full slate of concerts every month, but I always found something to look forward to. One reason I wanted to celebrate all year is that I don’t like to have a big “Blow Out” at year-end. I know a lot of people (individuals and families) who are frugal for 11 months and then have a month of wild excesses, especially financially. I confess to enjoying moderation: we buy what we need throughout the year, and don’t let our wants and needs pile up for year-end.
Some of it is based on our traditions, too. Link and I were on our own for many years and we had no choice but to keep things low-key. Now that we’re near family, we benefit from my mom still having everyone over on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! Since everyone goes there, we have very little to prepare at home. Rom’s Canadian Christmases with my extended family are “bigger” than the way he used to celebrate in the UK. (And my mom now remembers to buy him Brussels sprouts with the Christmas dinner!)
This year I simplified my gift shopping. I bought one item for each person, instead of “assembling” gifts from several items. This was much less stressful for me since I wasn’t always thinking, “I’ll just get so-and-so one more thing.” I’m not sure if the gift receivers preferred it, but I didn’t get any complaints 🙂 I also contained the seasonal sprawl by shopping on just 3 occasions in December rather than repeat visits over several months. I will admit to buying electronics for Link, though!
Meanwhile, Rom and I set a low price limit for gifts for each other and called it a Stocking Stuffer budget. We both enjoyed the shopping and the results so I expect we’ll keep it going. We do buy stuff for ourselves throughout the year. In that spirit, I bought myself a new DSLR camera, a replacement for my 2007 model. Yes, the old one worked fine and I was just looking for an upgrade 🙂 I seem to find myself with a new gadget once a year, but I have to cop to two this year because of my work cell phone being taken away. I had been watching the price on this camera all year and it was predictably lowest around “Cyber Monday.”
It is another Canon Rebel – they are really meant as DSLRs for beginners. Since I’ve used Canon cameras for a long time, I already have their lenses and accessories, and I know how to use a lot of the settings. I don’t plan to turn pro, so it will be fine for my purposes.
Link came to visit for two weeks and I was off work for a good part of it. We spent lots of time together, and when Link kept a night-owl schedule, I was up early as usual and finished off that home inventory! We avoided shopping and spent more time seeing relatives. We invited ourselves to my mom’s for Christmas baking and reviewed how to make pies, biscuits and her famous choc chip cookies! We went to see the Hobbit “Smaug” movie which we all enjoyed greatly, and we met up at my sister’s place to check out her home 3D TV. We watched Pacific Rim – I am always up for a robot movie!
Last year when Link was visiting in December, we cooked some meals with meat for the occasion, but decided not to this year. We’d always had some meatless meals when Link was living at home, so it wasn’t too great a hardship. I always make lasagna for Christmas Eve, and I finally made the switch to bringing a vegetable lasagna. It got rave reviews and I was very happy about that. If you ever want/need to make one, I swear by this recipe!
December was surprisingly cold and snowy. I was pleased I could walk to work all but one day when I needed my car to attend meetings across town. My non-technical cold weather gear held up fine even at -12C. I’ve adjusted quickly to spending time outdoors in the cold. I thought it would bother me, but I’m over it! Between the walking and the daily snow shovelling, one adapts fast!
In December I created a completely new budget for 2014 to accommodate increased savings, and as you saw earlier this week, it also meant reviewing last year’s expenditures. I like that kind of stuff!
I think this year’s system of doing fun things all year worked well for us. I hope I don’t look back on this period of my life as “the empty nest years” or “the pre-retirement years.” Maybe The Prime of Life, or even Maturity. Believe it or not, at some point I started to feel like a real adult and not an impostor!
Oh, December 26 was my 2-year blog anniversary here. I am kept humble by having the least active blog in the family – Rom’s has over 1400 followers and Link’s has over 900 – so I have a lot to aspire to! (For privacy reasons I won’t direct you to theirs). I’m not complaining, by the way – I have High Quality Readers 🙂
I’ll be back tomorrow with a Reading Down the House update.
What a nice month you had! Hope the new year is filled with joy.
Thanks, Juhli – yours too!
I like to spread things out throughout the year too – it’s more fun that way. I also like you ‘one gift’ idea…if only I could get people on board with that idea without causing upset.
Happy Blogaversary – I for one am very glad you started a blog 🙂
Thanks, Laura – it’s been nice ‘reading’ each other! I should say that Rom and Link received more than one gift, but the extended family got one each.
I’ve only just found your blog, that must mean I’m a High Quality Reader, yay 😉
Sounds like you had a great December and I love the ‘one gift’ idea too. I’ve managed to cut down my Christmas spending by only buying for (and receiving from) five people, and it makes Christmas so much less stressful.
All the best for 2014 x
Hello and welcome, Quality Reader 🙂 I did enjoy December and benefited from my mom’s Christmas preparations while keeping mine-low key at home. Besides my immediate family of 2, I bought gifts for 10 extended family members (my parents, brother, sister and their kids). No one has ever really suggested that we don’t all exchange gifts so we are fine with it for now. But not buying each person 3 or 4 smaller things was helpful.
Your 2013 sounded amazing – I’ve followed your blog on the Bloglovin reader. Happy New Year!
I love your Christmas tree. Is it a real one? It sits so nicely in your bay window. And the candles on the sill are very classic. The live trees here are pine trees and not as nice.
I know what you mean about feeling like a real adult late into adulthood. I often feel like an imposter in my “pillar of society” job. And often forget that I am middle aged and not a young whippersnapper (until I try reading small font, then I remember quickly.)
Thanks, it’s a fir tree – they’re grown locally. I think I felt pretty much like my teenage self until my own kid was a teenager and I realized how irrelevant my own experience was to their issues – because it was so long ago!
I’m glad you had such a good month 🙂 It’s easy to get caught up in day to day happenings and forget all the fun stuff. I’ve been handling the cold better as well – I even went without long johns on my walk the other day!
Happy Blogaversary! I really enjoy your blog 🙂
Thanks, Amanda! It’s -10 this afternoon!
I really love your tree and how it sits in that room! That’s how I imagine in my head that Christmas “should” look. I cannot believe that you walk to work in -12C weather! And without technical winter gear from North Face! Happy Blogaversary, you have such a positive, uplifting approach. Always love reading your posts!
Thanks, Fiona! I could never walk to work in even 32C weather, LOL! Now you’ve got me thinking about how the Northern Hemisphere has set itself as the norm and declared the southern to be…not so. I have one of those “upside down” world maps with the southern hemisphere on top, pinned up in my office!
Your tree is beautiful and it sounds like you had a lovely Christmas (except for the Brussel Sprouts). Here’s to a wonderful year ahead for you and yours from another quality reader 😉
Yes, you are, Jen! Happy New Year!
I have to say that I am definitely of the live frugally for a year party and then have a huge blow out in December! But I am already regretting this on the 1st January!! I like your plan of just getting each person 1 gift. I am going to try that this year – and try to start early too I think! I just love your tree by the way, it is so traditionally pretty!
Thanks, Holly! The tree was a funny shape but I found it quite lovable 🙂 The reason I don’t like a December blow-out is because I find I don’t appreciate things as much when I get a lot of stuff at once, and then I am bored and envious the rest of the year!
I like your idea for a year of celebrations and hope to have a planning meeting to achieve something similar this year, but interspersing holidays with weekend’s away and nice fun activities from my lists.
I’m astounded by some people’s followers, like a school friend who has just started blogging. That being said, I think sometimes on WordPress there’s trolls who are just looking for follows/links/page hits, and so it’s not reflective of the truer readership. I think it would be better to compare your readership to your commenter’s readership more than anything.
I have to agree with Fiona, you are always upbeat and fun to read, and I set you as a guide/mentor to the blog I’d like to have. I also love the real tree! And 32 C is easy, with arctic air con (likewise your conditions with heating).
Thanks, Sarah. I agree – I actually measure whatever success I have in blogging by how many real “blog friends” I feel I have, such as yourself! And even then it’s not about numbers but about feeling connected. As for the weather, I suppose it all depends on how much time one spends outdoors!