COLUMN: Holiday memories aren’t tied to cash

I remember waking up one Christmas morning to find a trail of gold and silver glitter at my bedroom door leading to the living room.

I remember waking up one Christmas morning to find a trail of gold and silver glitter at my bedroom door leading to the living room.

The trail led to the Christmas tree and a dollhouse. Inside was a handwritten note in silver from Santa’s elves about how they had constructed the house and filled it with all the marvelous accessories.

Inside the tiny kitchen were fake bread and cakes beautifully crafted out of dough and painted to resemble the tasty treats. The bedroom had hand-sewn curtains and little beds made out of clothes pins and small little pillows that matched the curtains.

I don’t remember how old I was when I received the dollhouse, but do remember it was one of my favourite toys growing up. It was constructed by my father, and my mother created all the tiny furnishings that adorned the inside.

There are very few presents I remember vividly from the Christmases we had growing up. Only a few have withstood the passage of time. The most cherished that I received were the ones my parents made themselves.

We would also make Christmas ornaments for the tree – little paper angels, or macaroni stick men in my case, to hang on the branches.

Handmade wrapping paper was also fun. My mom would lay out rolls of old newspaper print rolls and we would spend the afternoon dumping and spraying the paint on the paper with paint brushes, old toothbrushes and potato cut-outs.

These are the holiday memories that last. Most of the toys my parents bought from the store are long forgotten and have been given away to a charity.

As the holiday season approaches and more flyers get jammed into my mailbox every day, I can’t help but think of what Christmas was like as a child.

In many ways nothing has changed.

Growing up I always had friends whose families would buy expensive gifts during the holidays and others who had less extravagant holidays.

Yet, I always wonder why people buy such expensive gifts at Christmas. It seems that some people stress about getting someone a costly present at the expense of depriving themselves of something important down the road.

And holiday shopping at the mall is one nightmare I try to avoid. People are always trying to run me over or scowl at me if I am taking too much time examining an item on a shelf. I want to make sure what I’m buying is something the person would like and feel it’s important to inspect them for flaws.

Where is the holiday cheer? I would rather stay home than get stuck in a mall with a bunch of people so intent on getting the most toys or best deals that they bump into me, cut me off and give me foul looks. I try to smile but most of the time people don’t seem to notice.

Then there is the added downfall of families going into debt to purchase presents. I find setting a budget for each person helps me to not overspend.

Also, I keep my gift giving to a select few. I’m a little lucky because my family isn’t that large, so I don’t have tons of people to buy for.

For the past few years I created a gift cupboard in my house and would buy things throughout the year for people as I saw them go on sale.

That allowed me to avoid the hassle of Christmas shopping at the malls and was easier on the pocketbook.

This year I wasn’t as prepared and have only three or four things in my gift cupboard. I’ve made a mental note to do a better job on the gift cupboard next year so I’m not in this predicament again.