This is it. One week to go. Almost time to start thinking about Christmas shopping.
Sure, some family members started this process a month or two ago, but, as you patiently explained to them, that’s because they’re weak, slow and inefficient. Sturdier sorts, those with balls of holly, aren’t so readily rattled. No need to worry about stuffing the stockings until you can feel the reindeer’s breath on the back of your neck.
It’s not as easy as it used to be, though. Gone are the days when 1980s dad could ease himself out of his naugahyde just long enough to peel a twenty from his wallet: “Go get your mother something nice.” I mean, with inflation he’s probably looking at $23 now.
Right, inflation. That’s a problem this year. Best to work within a budget. With that in mind, here are some guidelines to follow when planning your holiday spending:
• Turkey: $32.
• New outdoor Christmas lights: $178.
• Scratch and win lottery tickets: $15.
• Wrapping paper: $17.
• Using the Times Colonist as wrapping paper: $3.10.
• Christmas tree from a commercial lot: $90.
• Tree harvested from the wild: Free.
• Hiring the kid next door to string new outdoor Christmas lights along your roof: $50.
• “Why would I pay that kid 50 bucks when I can do it myself?”: Free.
• Ladder slips as you’re stringing the lights. Adult-sized dent in the hood of your parked car: $300 deductible. Ambulance ride: $80.
• Electricity for new outdoor lights: $179.
• Plugging your lights into the neighbour’s house: Free.
• Oops, the neighbour caught you. Another ambulance ride to hospital: $80.
• Thanks to avian flu, turkeys are scarce, but you find a guy selling them from the trunk of his car: $75.
• Apparently Beacon Hill Park doesn’t count as “the wild.” Cutting down conifer contrary to city bylaw: $500. Also, you’ll have to buy a fir from a commercial lot now.
• Last year’s heat dome killed this year’s Christmas trees. Commercial lots are sold out. Pilfering one from a hotel lobby: $2,500 fine and 100 hours of community service.
• Headline on Times Colonist wrapping paper reads “Drunken Santa Stabbed in New York Street Brawl.” Child psychiatrist: $150 per session.
• Car trunk turkey turns out to be golf course goose. Big Macs for Christmas dinner: $24.
• Photo with mall Santa: $30.
• Terrified toddler urinates on mall Santa. Dry cleaning: $31. Child psychiatrist: $150 per session.
• Drinks at company Christmas party: $92. Telling your boss what you really think: Free.
• Having a professional update your resumé the next morning: $300.
• Accidentally burning winning lottery ticket along with the offensive Times Colonist wrapping paper: $50,000.
• Holiday spending at liquor store: $792.
• Salvation Army kettle outside liquor store: One loonie, deposited piously/begrudgingly.
• Surreptitiously watching the World Cup on your phone during child/grandchild’s school concert: $50 for wireless earbuds.
• Yelling “What a horsebleep call!” as a 10-year-old reads her prize-winning essay “Why I Believe in Feeding the Hungry” at the concert: $200 donation to the Mustard Seed. Child psychiatrist: $150 per session.
• Family singalong as car radio plays Wham! version of Last Christmas for the 900th time: Free.
• On the 901st time, you empty a handgun into the car radio. Fine for dangerous use of a firearm: Maximum $5,000. Child psychiatrist: $150 per session.
• Stockings hung by the chimney with care: $14 each on Pinterest.
• Pantyhose hung by the chimney with dollar store duct tape: Another little piece of her soul when she sees what you have done.
• “You’ll be busy in the kitchen all afternoon, I might as well watch the Broncos play the Rams.” Divorce lawyer: $7,000 retainer.
• Three helpings of dark meat, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, gravy-drenched bread stuffing and butter-soaked mashed potatoes, followed by butter tarts, chocolates and shortbread, all of it washed down with three glasses of wine and a bucket of rum and eggnog: $22. Defibrillator: $1,700. Ambulance ride: Yet another $80.
That should do it. If you forget anything — or anyone — just blame the broken supply chain. Or your unbroken budget. I’m sure they’ll understand. It might be Christmas, but you still have to act responsibly.
Jack Knox is a columnist with the Victoria Times Colonist