A holiday challenge out of turn

Ok so my husband read my last post and really liked it. He casually asked me, like I tell most of my young clients, if I am willing to tone down my holiday preparations money wise and still keep the fun? I was unsure if I am willing to accept the challenge as I have always been a careful person who budgets for everything from buying a Gucci bag to the smallest item on my grocery list. I was not willing to tone down this year also because I have saved comfortably for the party and the gifts and the biggest reason; I have a new one waiting to arrive anytime and its celebration time! The inner Aries in me refused to give up on this challenge. So changing plans meant changing the following :

  • A new Christmas tree and decoration– I had planned to buy a brand new Christmas Tree with white snow flakes this year, as I got bored with old one and already chosen my decorations from ‘Home Sense’. The challenge meant that I shelve all these plans and still not feel bad about it. I rushed to my basement and stripped my old Christmas tree of all its old decorations. My next destination was taking a u-turn,into the dollar shop. I was pleasantly surprised to see the decoration items they had. Instead of picking my all time favorite red, green and white.I picked up all purple. I went overboard with even buying the wreaths from there. After my shopathon I apprehensively turned to the cash register and waited for the cashier to tell me the golden figure. “Its $22”, she said and voila! I won this one. My Christmas Tree looks more than perfect now with those purple decor’s hanging in there and I cant even tell its my old one.
  • Gifts from ‘The Bay’– I have always shopped from here. I know I know its expensive.But I budgeted for it. I just loved the moment when I handed over the white ‘The Bay’ bags and loved the shine in my friends eyes. I always thought that if I get them something less than that, it might look bad for my image or they may think I am in some kind of crunch whenI am not (I wish I knew earlier, I was soooo wrong).  Ok, so now I had to forget this. Instead I went to Ikea and bought some wooden picture frames $7 each and printed a  picture with a personalized message. I was a meeting a friend over for lunch as she will be away for the holidays so I had to give this gift before she left. After a banana loaf and coffee at the cozy Starbucks it was time for the gift. I slyly took out the gift and waited for her phone call.The call didn’t come the same evening. This morning I got a call from her and it looked she was emotional after reading my personalized message on the picture I framed for her.Her words “Best gift ever” and I knew she meant it as she has always spoken her mind. The AHA moment. I was all this while underestimating my relationships. I get the hint. I was wrong all this while.
  • Gifts for little ones– So, I thought of spending at least $50 on each kid, a total of four kids (one including mine). ‘Toysrus’ my one stop destination. Alas! I had to give it a miss. My Plan B,I had bought the jazziest gift bags from dollar shop and filled it with lots of goodies like chocolates, crayons, play doughs, star wars figurines, Cars2 toys etc etc etc. My grand total for a pack of 4, $36. What?????? I cant believe the bill. I bought 5 bags and gave one as an experiment to my 3 year old son and he cant get over the variety of things he found in the goodie bag. I must say my challenge was turning out to be pretty satisfying.
  • Crib and clothes for the new baby–  I do not know why but I wanted to buy $300 crib from Sears for the new one. But keeping the new challenge in mind I had to hem my aspirations for this one too. The old crib I had given away so I had less options and time even less. For the first time I browsed through sites like Kjiji and found the best deals. A new mother was giving a great deal on a brown almost new crib for just half of the price of the new one. She also had some great deals on baby clothes she had hardly used. I made up my mind, that I will be honest and even try buying those clothes (One thing I had never done). It felt awkward to go and pick it up as she might be thinking I cant afford a new one (she didn’t know I as under a challenge), but I still did pick it up. After the crib has sat in the nursery for almost 2 days, I really cant stop thinking about how my thoughts really did not let me explore any new and more economical options.I cold have saved even more! It does not matter, where I got the crib from, what matters is who will sleep in it! What a learning experience.
  • Gifts for me – I have always been a person who loved to give gifts it gave me a lot of satisfaction. So I still had few people who were good candidates for my gifts.It is tough to skip them. But for the first time I am going to not only skip gifts for them but I will expect gifts.

I do have some handful challenges to meet but I have overcome the biggest ones. The money I planned to spend on the above is still sitting pretty in my savings account. Apart from having saved even more money, what I realized was what we lack in our lives, we often fulfill it by spending money on it that is even more bubble reputed. The challenge has become priceless for me.I am more self assured and confident. I am not worrying about my image, I am getting more real.Extra money never hurt anyone.I am certainly loving it !

Tra ! la! la! la! la! la! la!

The difference between good and bad !

Recently I went to a function of a college when Vice chancellor of that university announced a 4 year grant for a very poor student. The ecstatic student went up to the VC at the end of the function and said “You are the best person who I have come across in my whole life”. And I agreed. But I was the same person who really was upset when the same grant was not given to a poor student known to our family for years.

I have contradicted myself in so many situations and for over so many years.I have come to ask myself a question..what defines a good act and a bad act?I have aften found myself weighing that any act of mine was good or was that bad? We all at some point we all percieve things as good or bad.Our basic problem is that we seek clarity between the good and the bad.Whereas if we see both rely on their own contexts.Although I think a lot on these lines still but this does not deter me from doing what is generally thought of correct in the worldly context. I just question it whenever I get stuck in a “think or throw” type of thought. In moments where I dont know if I should forgive a person or be forgiven? There is a small story by a famous visionary which helps me. It goes like :

In a faraway small village, there lived a bunch of conservative families where falling in love and getting married was a stigma. There lived a carpenter who had a docile girl.She got married with the consent of her parents and invited the whole village for the extravagant wedding. The wedding had various delicacies and everybody was given a box of sweets that was the main attraction . For months villagers remembered that ‘box of sweets’ that was given with so much benevolence. On the contrary , one night a barber’s daughter from the same village eloped with a guy from a nearby village and left a goodbye letter for her parents.None knew that where she eloped.There was no wedding, no villagers were invited and hence ‘no box of sweets’ were given as the girl just eloped. Few months later both the girls in separate incidences fought with thier respective husbands and came back home to live with their parents. Villagers supported the carpenters daughter and poured all their love to her as compared to barbers daughter and bad mouthed her.For the villagers, carpenters daughter was good and barbers daughter was bad and they asked her to leave the village. Howsoever upset barber was with her daughter, he still disliked the villagers descision. The King of the village was approached to give the descision as to who was right and who was wrong? After listening carefully, the king gave his verdict and that was :

“The difference between good and bad is only ‘a box of sweets’ that was given for the carpenters daughter wedding and that could not happen for the barber’s daughter wedding because she eloped”.

This story will stay with me forever and will guide me when my mind becomes full of expectations and my demands become unnecessary, when I am driven to believe that I am good and such an such person is bad. I will just think ‘there lies a context that I may not see, but exists still”.