It started weeks ago like any other conversation about holidays. “You don’t need to get me anything,” I said. Knowing full well that Mr. P would never listen, I followed up with a gentle reminder that Dollar Tree sells lovely cards. Valentine’s Day. Mother’s Day. Sweetest Day. They all follow the same cookie-cutter pattern. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Yesterday morning, I opened a five-dollar card. I knew what it cost, not only because the price was stamped on the back and the thing weighed half a pound thanks to all the buttons, glitter, and doodads, but because I am the keeper of the receipts and the queen of the spreadsheets. And my eyes filled up with tears.
Mr. P, in his perfectly teeny handwriting, had penciled a note from our baby.
In just a few more weeks, we get to meet for the very first time. I hope that you are as excited as I am for that day to come! I already know that you will be the best mommy ever and I can’t wait for you to hold me in your arms.
I know my baby didn’t write this letter. Or pick out the card. Or buy the hanging baskets of flowers that magically appeared on the hooks outside our front porch. Or choose the two-pound bag of Sour Patch Kids that is perfect for sharing but won’t be.
I know Mr. P did all of those things. I also know that the money he spent was our money. And I don’t care.
I don’t care that he spent $20 on me. I don’t care that we spent more than $100 celebrating the moms, godmothers, and grandma in our lives. In fact, I’m thrilled that we make time and room in our spending to do those things.
Ten years ago, Americans clocked in at $15 billion on Mother’s Day spending. The National Retail Federation estimated that spending in 2017 was expected to top $23.6 billion, outpacing last year’s recording breaking $21.4 billion. Even though only 20% of people said they intend to spend more money on Mother’s Day this year than last year, we can all see the trend. So why in the world don’t I object to throwing more money into this absurdly expensive bucket?
Because for a lot of people, these made-up holidays aren’t just an obligation. They’re an opportunity to slow down and say all the things that we’ve been meaning to say all year. That doesn’t justify the frenetic pace at which we live. That doesn’t suddenly excuse the fact that we’re so busy regular hustling and side hustling and every other kind of hustling that we forget to slow down every once in awhile. That doesn’t make it right.
But it doesn’t make it wrong, either.
There are so many things Americans fritter away money on. Let’s go back to picking on new cars. Let’s gear up for the debate on lattes. Let’s bemoan the fact that some women (hello!) manage to amass collections of over 200 pairs of shoes and think that the problem is the size of the closet, not the number of soles. And maybe, just maybe, for the sake of family, for the sake of friends, for the sake of finding a day to tell someone we care, let’s leave the made-up holidays alone.
So Tell Me…Where do you stand on holiday spending?