Friday, December 13, 2013

Frugal Christmas Tips

We didn’t have much money when I was growing up, and my parents not only stuck to a really strict budget, they also looked for ways to save money. Couponing, recycling, upcycling, reusing, repurposing...whatever cost cutting ‘ing’ was out there, they practiced it.

Posing in front of the tree with my mom and two brothers.
My brother to the right of me is no longer with us.
And neither is the person snapping the photo - my dad.
By saving pennies here and there, my mom was also able to put aside some money throughout the year for special occasions. She was particularly focused on making sure that my brothers and I would find a few gifts under the tree Christmas morning.

We opened our gifts Christmas morning when we were kids, but we were permitted
to open one item after we returned from midnight mass on Christmas eve.
My brother to my left and I were Irish twins (less than a year apart), and we were very close.
He died tragically in April 2011. Not a day goes by that he doesn't cross my mind.
This time of year is particularly difficult without him.
I was planning to write about how economical and unwasteful that generation was. And about how those habits helped ensure that even a low income family like ours was able to enjoy a few treats during the holidays. Pretty serious stuff, no?

Then I ran across the funny video below, and decided that I’d end the week with a little humour instead. Because I just can’t help myself. Humour, people, that’s my drug.



Wishing each and every one of you a fabulous weekend!

36 comments:

  1. Sounds like your mum was an amazing woman, so about the loss of your brother.

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    1. She was and still is. Thank you about my brother; it's just one of those things in life.

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  2. I love the Yuletide and Silent Night tips. Hilarious!!! And your family is precious. How very sad about your brother. I'm sure you miss him terribly.

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    1. The silent night tip was my favourite...hahahaha... Yes, I do miss my brother very much, but at least enough time has passed that the heavy grief is over.

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  3. We used to have the tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve as well - we always tried to choose wisely :)

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    1. And you hoped that the choice turned out to be good!

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  4. Thank you for sharing this video, Martha! Scott and I laughed together over the "Silent Night" one....and the snowman one. We thought of Toronto's beleaguered mayor.

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    1. The "Silent Night" tip is my favourite. I can think of a few people that it would work well for :)

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  5. You mom, the best kind of mom, I'm sorry about your Dad and your brother that is hard..yet you keep bringing joy and humour to the world, you are one terrific lady, you know, and again my sound is off through no fault of my own...but still this time I got the message lol

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    1. Thank you, Lorraine. Experiences and losses have never made me bitter. It's just part of life, and there are things that we just don't have control of. Hanging my head and being depressed every day isn't going to bring them back, but it will make day to day living much more difficult. And my brother and father would not have wanted that for me, or anyone else they loved and cared about.

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  6. A close family is a pretty amazing gift! We had very little growing up, and your Christmas reminds me of my own. We had a few gifts under the tree ... usually something practical - of course! It does make you see the world differently, but I think I am the better for it. Happy Holidays Martha! and thanks for the giggle!

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    1. 'Practical' pretty much defined all my childhood holidays...hahaha... But I think I am better for it, too. And you know, I remember the good times we had; the gifts have long been forgotten.

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  7. Sorry about your brother. Your post is moving and entertaining a the same time.

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    1. A sense of humour is a great way to get through the difficult times in life.

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  8. Humour is my drug of choice too, Martha. That, and chocolate. Oh, anything sweet, really.

    And yes, Christmas does start to become bittersweet as we age because we miss those who are no longer here. I find that more and more.

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    1. I can't imagine a day without humour; life would be so much tougher that way. As the years go by, more and more people leave this life, so these holidays become quite bittersweet.

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  9. Yes, such a terrible loss and so hard at Christmas. Thinking of you Martha. But gee, thanks for all of those great Conan tips! :)

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    1. Thank you, Francie. It's sad when there are empty seats during our family gatherings, but such is life. I hope he is in a much better place.

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  10. Just talking about that this morning Martha.....missing those that are no longer here. I can be difficult.

    Now why didn't I think about that duct-tape idea?!! I'll pay for that!!
    thanks for the laugh!

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    1. That duct tape idea is just hilarious! That's my favourite one. I'm sure some people are thinking "hmmm..." LOL...

      Yes, it can be difficult this time of year because of people we miss. Such is life, Jim. We move along eventually when the grief starts to lessen.

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  11. Growing up on a farm living off the land my dad still had to work out of the home to make sure we were all able to survive they both were good at saving and putting money away and always made sure us kids never went with out no one got better then any one else they raised us equally Mum was the home maker and did a lot of home cooking and baking from scratch and made a lot of our cloths with the acception of a few special store bought cloths They worked hard and gave us soo much we weren't poor by any means just lucky and thankful to have what we did ! . Good ideas on the video ya have to do what you have to do ! Love the old photos ! Thanks for sharing , Have a good weekend !

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    1. Looks like your parents taught you many wonderful life lessons. This is what we remember about them as we get older. I was fortunate to grow up in a loving and stable home. We take that for granted when we're younger, not realizing that it's not the case with everyone.

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  12. HAhaaaa.... the video was hilarious ... haaa

    soooo sorry about your brother ... and that's why holidays can be so sad for so many people... the losses recognized ... especially the losses of those we've divorced ourselves from ... not husbands but people...

    My Mother was a big layaway person. She would layaway stuff as soon as the sales hit after Christmas for the next Christmas... we always had a nice Christmas too ... nothing fancy just lots of baking and smells and such ... Mother was a housewife and cooked, cleaned, ironed ... all that role playing stuff.

    Sure enjoyed the food though ;) we grew almost everything we ate ... except for grain and sugar... good tasting food. I can remember being the churn weight... the butter molds and ... oh on and on ...

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    1. It's funny, Carolyn, how much things have changed. My parents did the layaway, too. In fact, just about all the grownups I knew as a kid did. There was no such thing as buy now and pay for it later. You didn't take anything home until it was fully paid. That was great because you weren't saddled with an overload of credit. You owned everything you had, save for the house until the mortgage was paid. And even with that you had to put down a considerable down payment to show that you were serious.

      My mother grew up the same way you did with everything homegrown. They had land, grew their own fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc. And everything was done from scratch. Everything! Her childhood was quite fascinating; different in many ways from my own.

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  13. we'd never see a hint of our presents until Christmas morning. My mother did a good job at hiding them.

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    1. Smart mom! She made sure you were all surprised in the morning.

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  14. Every Christmas some of the presents were always wrapped in the Sunday funnies. I think those comics are still my favorite wrapping paper.

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    1. That is one of the coolest and most original things I've heard! What a nice memory.

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  15. For us it was "Durga Puja", a big festival in Kolkata, India (Eastern India) in October, where I used to experience exactly the same situation as yours. My parents used to save money for this festival so that me and my brother could enjoy with new dresses and gifts. All of us relate to each other in a subtle way. The fundamental emotions are same.

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    1. Yes, that is right on: the fundamental emotions are the same! Sounds like your parents wanted to make the occasion very special for all of you.

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  16. it's hilarious really that I can't hear any posted video, but those stupid commercial have no trouble coming into my computer way loud, what's up with that? geesh can't hear the fun or the beautiful but I get the commercials. doesn't that beat all....

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    1. I wonder if some option is turned off, Lorraine? Since you can hear the commercials, the sound is obviously working. Do some research online and see if you can find some helpful information.

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  17. Poor MIL, they always get the heave-Ho...of course!!
    LOVE IT!

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    1. Yes, they do! I may be one some day, and these jokes will apply to me!

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  18. We were also a very frugal family, great tips! I agree.. humor makes every thing a bit easier!

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    1. Yes, humour definitely makes things a bit easier. We all need a little of that.

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