Christmas woes

30 November 2013

In Sweden we call it an I-country problem. Industrialised country problem. What to give one’s children for Christmas. Children all over the world starve, freeze, you name it, and here I sit and think about what to give my children for Christmas. What to give them to make them happy. What to give them on a very limited budget. I just received a letter from a fairly new penfriend, in England, a couple of days ago. She has been utterly silent since August so I assumed that she wasn’t so interested in being my penpal after all. Turned out that she has had bad news. Her mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer and naturally, she has been too busy for letter writing. She apologised for her sad letter and promised a happier one soon, full of Christmas preparation tales. She loves choosing presents for everyone, wrapping them… It made me think. Yes, I DO love choosing presents for everyone. Choosing paper, ribbon and label for each present and person. Even if most of the receivers do NOT pay attention to such detail at all. I’m afraid my children just rip the paper off not paying attention at all, to details.

No, my problem this year is that I feel like I can’t afford Christmas at all. But how can I deny my children what everyone else is going to have? Yes, our car is now rocking like a rowing boat in a storm, but not side wise, more like dipping up and down like a ship does. It’s a scary feeling! And I don’t even dare to think of what it will cost us to fix it all. Will it pass inspection even? And what if the car just folds on the “autobahn”? Some days I chicken out, and take the safer highway. People do not drive as fast there, so they could stop if my car just collapsed in front of them.

For three days now, I have been wrecking my brain over what to give the children. I have had to set a limit money wise, like I always do. But it seems like you get less and less for your money. Everything is so hideously expensive! And of course the four youngest are not good at handling only getting one big present or something like that. Nor is my husband for that matter!!! Adding to this impossible stretch of money, comes extended family and friends. As if it is not bad enough that everything cost so much, the postage to send things, is worse than ever. Which one can see on eBay, where I have spent all my time the last three days. Everyone is so greedy. What they do not get in to their pockets from the sale of their items, they cash in on the postage. Some people have the atrocity to charge over $10 postage to send a tiny little Lego miniature figure! Go figure if that is being honest or Christian for that matter?

Believe it or not, but the only ones that have come in with wish lists for me this year, are Daniel, “Dollie” (16 years old so guess what that one looks like and costs!!!???) and “Boo”, who had help from the special ed teacher to write his. One of the items was an iPhone! Sorry “Boo” but you are not going to receive an iPhone or anything of the sort. How about a used Lego Batmobile I found on eBay a month ago? I must say that when I wrapped it today, I fell in love with it! Very COOL! Daniel’s list was reasonable I guess: a purple tie we saw last year, the school photo catalogue that he receives every year so surprise, surprise, “Weapons of the Navy Seals” that is an out of print book of course (what is it with him and me, since we only want to read out of print books?), red hoodie and red sweatshirt trousers. Hm! We’ll see what we can do. Or Father Christmas can do…  I can’t give him all of it, but something… “Dollie” is the one that thinks that I am made of money and has forgotten that she has siblings: Shirt with superhero logo, cover make up, rings, a cool cap and a peplum shirt. Let’s say that I had already bought things when the list came so… And the cover thing for blemishes and tired bags under the eyes alone, cost 13 Pounds/16 Euro/$21.34! With a 37 Pound/45 Euro/$61 limit for each family member, well let’s say, she is set to get disappointed. She has started a snob school where some of the girls wear Victoria’s Secret underwear and brand name clothes and I’m afraid that I can not “keep up with the Jones'”.

So, shopping for one of the older children is a sad thing because I know she want much and do not understand our financial situation. Shopping for the younger ones is fun in one way, but terribly frustrating and time-consuming. A whole day was spent on the internet looking at Lego Friends things for “Cookie” and fairy books by Titania Woods. Then one day was spent on looking for Lego Superheroes for “Kitty” since that was what I thought he would love. Then he comes up beside me and discovers Lego Ninja Turtles! And I wanted to rip my hair out. Empty the whole watch list on eBay for one, of superhero things, and then spend an entire day trying to find good prices on Ninja Turtles. Finally I sat and bid on raphaelturtlethis turtle and the Donatello one. It was late, late in the evening and I started to get to the giggle stage. I confessed to T. that I have no idea who these turtles are, what they do, nor did I know that they were still around. Thought they were a thing of the past. So why I waited for the auction to expire, I looked it all up on Wikipedia and was horrified to read that Raphael Ninja Turtle is the bad one of the four! I lost the auction of Donatello whom I guess is the most popular from my research on prices! And I told T. that I no longer wanted to win Raphael. And guess what I won? Why am I buying key rings? Because eBay sellers ask an arm and a leg for the miniature figures. If you get the key ring instead, you just take off the key ring part, and have the figure to play with! Alright, you get a hole in the head but who can not live with that??? My children have to for one!

michelangeloturtleI ended up buying key rings with Donatello and Leonardo as well. They’re absolutely crazy but I guess he likes them right now! From a Swedish internet toy shop, Bamba.se, I was able to get free shipping and 10% off an already rebated item so he will actually get one real Lego box with a gross octopus, a ninja enemy for all the turtles to fight, and yes, Michelangelo! I hope he will love getting all four of the turtles because I sacrificed my entire Friday evening trying to win these silly things!

Kay said that she enjoyed choosing all the presents. Well, I am as well but I wish it did not take days of research! Nor that people were so greedy. It does not cost over 4 pounds ($6.55/4.82 Euro)to send one of these little people! And while I am almost done with “Kitty’s” presents, I still have many more children and the days are flying by. Today, I have been trying to see what I already have hidden in my closet, do laundry, clean up and set up things for tomorrow’s first of Advent. At the same time as trying to win things for “Cookie”. And I just noticed that I lost both the auctions that ended today. So the search starts all over. In her case, I am getting really angry. When you are at Legoland and purchase things in their shop, you often are given promotional bags for free with your purchase. People are selling these bags that they have received for free, on eBay. The buy it now alternatives cost all the way up to 9.99 Pounds ($16.36/12.04 Euro)! For items people have paid nothing for! And then they have the gall to charge anything from 4 Pounds in shipping up to 6-8 Pounds ($9.82-13.10/7.23-9.64 Euro). When they weigh basically nothing! And the Lego boxes are SO expensive. Why do they have to cost so much? Now they are not even made in Denmark anymore, so one would have thought that the prices could have come down somewhat. But no…

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