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.