Discovering the true meaning of Christmas, it’s the plot of nearly every Hallmark movie this time of year, but while the holidays are observed and celebrated differently, buying gifts gets pushed to the front of millions across the country thanks to advertising.
It’s no secret that commercialization goes into overdrive during December, it’s a frequent gripe of “Charlie Brown,” but Meg Nordmann tells the hosts of How to Money that maybe it's time to add some elements of minimalism to our holiday routine. She explains how she went from going all out on Christmas gifts to setting a gift budget of $100 for both of her kids.
“I had that moment after Christmas when I kind of realized what I had done, just how out of control I had gotten, how much money I spent,” said Nordmann. “Then wanting to declutter everything I just bought. Like, ‘Oh wow I just destroyed all of my efforts.’”
Despite being a minimalist, Nordmann realized that she was still susceptible to the marketing blitz that comes at the end of the year. She decided to look into the origins of "Santa Claus" and the tradition of gift giving on Christmas Day.
“It’s almost treated like a religion in itself you know? We all play into this narrative, this story, as a whole society,” she said. “I get on (Google) and read about the history and it relieved so much pressure for me just to understand this.”
Nordmann told hosts Matt and Joel that she has taken 25 steps back from how she used to handle holiday shopping after reading how much Santa has morphed into this money machine for businesses in the winter months. Now, she doesn’t ask her kids what they want for Christmas. Instead, her and her family focus on doing things together leading up to the holiday. They celebrate the season instead of the day.
“This is a beautiful time of year, I love the season, let's go enjoy the snow, let’s go and look at the lights, let’s drink warm drinks together. That coziness. Let’s look at the twinkle lights and decorate the tree together,” said Nordmann. “That togetherness and that peace and the joy we sing about in our carols, but instead we kind have shifted to what the corporations wanted us ask which is ‘What do you want?’”
She still gets her kids presents, but she doesn’t spend the months leading up to Christmas Day asking them what they want. The Nordmann family has a $200 budget for holiday activities in December and $100 to cover gifts for their kids. It still feels magical and exciting, despite being different.
Listen to “A Very Merry Minimalist Christmas (Bestie Ep) w/ Meg Nordmann” to hear the full conversation. How to Money launches two episodes a week on the iHeartRadio app, but the financial content doesn’t stop there. Matt and Joel release extra resources for every episode, send out a weekly newsletter, and moderate a How to Money Facebook group.
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