I love the Christmas season and so does my husband (this is a man who listens to holiday music year-round). The month of December is usually a magical one for us. This year, however, will be a little different. We’ve made the “mature” decision not to decorate the house as we’ll be renovating over the holidays. So the snowmen and friends will stay cooped up in their boxes underneath the stairs and blocked off by dust, debris and insulation as we construct a home office out of our storage room. We’ll still have the music, the baking and the time spent with family, but it will be a little odd not to have a sparkling tree up in our living room.

We’ve also taken a serious look at our Christmas budget and have chosen to be modest with our gifts this year. No outlandish or unexpected purchases (Joe bought me a fantastic camera last year – which I love – but it’s just not in the cards for 2008). We’ve got our renovations to worry about and we’re both about to embark on entrepreneurial adventures in the new year (to be written about another time soon), not to mention we’re hoping to take a trip for our anniversary in April.

According to some pundits, our “civic duty” in tough economic times like these is to just keep spending. In fact, maybe spend MORE than we normally would this holiday season. Now, I don’t want us to end up being single-handedly responsible for worsening Canada’s recession…but as I listened to The Current on CBC radio this morning (guest Benjamin Barber was talking about his new book Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantalize Adults, and Swallow Children Whole), I felt a little bit better about our decision to cut back on “stuff” this year. Hearing about how our consumer culture hinders and hurts us was fascinating. Also interesting was Barber’s point that our current system, one whose survival relies on people spending more than they earn and going into debt, is actually a corruption of capitalism in its purest form. Listen to the show here: http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2008/200811/20081128.html

And amid news that a Wal-Mart worker died today after being trampled by customers at a Black Friday sale (http://finance.sympatico.msn.ca/investing/insight/article.aspx?cp-documentid=14539064), I think our decision to stay away from the malls is a safer one too.