A big Thank You to my friend Erin, who thoughtfully sent me this recycled shopping bag featuring a likeness of Michelle Obama.
It is fabulous!
Although I am open to listening to Christmas music all year long, I find that I willfully hold off in September and October so that it seems more festive when I start listening to it in November.
Yesterday, both to and from work, I listened to a mixed CD that my sister Jenni made for me last winter, filled with Christmas songs or songs that mention snow or winter, or both. It was fantastic. The timing aligned with the onset of the cold season here in Sicily. Yes, I just went to the beach on Monday, November 5th. And, no, we have not yet turned the heat on in our house. Cut me some slack, weather is relative, and for Sicily, it is getting cold!
After I cracked the door with the winter music, I reminded myself of the early mailing deadline for my post office (December 3rd!), and the Christmas gifts I still exchange with my family. A mix of siblings, cousins, and parents that is boring and complicated to explain, but pretty darn fun to shop for. Of course, the most enjoyable shopping is for the darling nieces and nephew!
With these thoughts in mind, I was enticed to purchase a holiday planning guide from the financially savvy women at Daily Worth. This is the same website that prompted my musings on debt. The Peace of Mind Holiday Guide can be purchased as a PDF ($9.99) or an ebook ($4.99) by clicking on this link.
Because I am still one of those crazy readers who hasn’t purchased and e-reader, I opted for the PDF. I am confident I will get an e-reader someday, and maybe someday soon, but I am historically a late-bloomer when it comes to technology. I was still on cassettes when everyone else had switched to CDs; the last of my college friends to switch to a cell phone; didn’t join Facebook until 2008; late to the smartphone party…and still waiting to dive into the e-reader pool.
The PDF version is a 41-page document that focuses on enjoying the giving that you do during this season. It offers tips and tactics to avoid the stress and overspending that are hallmarks of the U.S. tradition of holiday overindulgence. Just like we tend to eat one too many Christmas cookie, many of us buy one too many gifts…and to what end?
My goal in purchasing the planner is twofold: (1) to investigate Daily Worth and (2) to investigate my holiday spending habits.
Why investigate Daily Worth? I have been receiving Daily Worth emails for approximately a year and I appreciate the nudge they give me to refocus on finances. I understand and appreciate the complexity of investment tools available, as well as the necessity to be engaged with my financial reality in order to execute a successful financial future. Yet, I am dismayed and disgusted by the blatant greed represented by the parts of the financial industry that focus on more, more, more. I feel like Daily Worth helps me find an entry point in the discussion that I haven’t been able to identify in any other place, online, with financial professionals, or among friends.
Yet, Daily Worth also makes me wrinkle my nose as it assumes my consumerism level is much higher than it is; it offended me with its post-election edition; and it has just a tad too many advertiser posts mixed into its regular email content. Thus, I frequently consider discontinuing my membership and am constantly investigating Daily Worth content for reasons to stay with it or to quit it.
Investigating my holiday spending habits is a more understandable and probably a shared interest among many of us. Not only do I appreciate having a game plan going into the season, but perhaps I will accomplish the tasks associated with spreading season’s greetings far and wide in a way that doesn’t leave me feeling liked I missed opportunities to connect. Too many years, December 19th rolls around and I realize there is no way I will reach out in the way I had hoped to do. Although I soothe that burn with the recognition that I do actively reach out to my friends and family all year long (and recognize other milestones with them), there is a special joy that comes with participating in a cultural celebration. For better or worse, my annual cultural celebration is centered on the Christmas traditions of gift-giving, sparkling decor, sharing warm sentiments, and snuggling up with loved ones against the cold, and sometimes snowy weather.
As I make my way through Daily Worth’s planning guide, I would be delighted to hear from anyone who has advice to give. How do you manage the demands of the holiday season? What traditions are your favorites? What traditions did you ditch long ago? Share your experiences in the comments!
Today while shopping, I pulled a typical Jill-move and was making my way through the store to the ‘cassa’ (cashier) with my arms full to the brim with product.
I shop this way on purpose sometimes; I do it to preclude my greedy little hands from reaching out for the delightful products en route to the cashier.
Sicily has several “home” stores that are set up in an Ikea fashion. There is one smallish entrance and the store meanders in a predetermined pathway through the various areas of the house. You never really know where you will find certain items, unless you memorize the layout or have a clairvoyance that escapes me. Thus, when my hands are full, I either have to put something back to pick up another good, or I have to just say that I don’t really need it anyway. I like this method.
And yet, I was delighted when a store clerk stopped what he was doing to unburden my hands. This man made me stop when I was about halfway through the store’s predetermined pathway. He grabbed a shopping-basket-on-wheels, took the items out of my hands, shooed me away as I tried to put the items in the basket, and perfectly arranged my goods so that I could continue through the store with ease.
While I did end up buying a few more items because of this, I have to admit it was much more comfortable to pull my items along behind me. The gentleman was so kind and pleased to have helped me, yet he shrugged off my thanks with ease and returned to his work.
I’m not much for chivalry, and the Sicilians have a way of helping each other out that is a step beyond chivalry.
Five photos from our shopping outing to Conforama, a furniture store similar to Ikea.
Gorgeous microwave. So pretty, so random. Love it!
“Soccer” foosball table. Yes, it says “soccer” and not “calcio” (Italian word for soccer) – weird.
Awesome discount movie selection. I love, love, love the Flashdance dvd jacket!
An entire row dedicated to espresso machines!
Lastly, a life-size doll for pre-teens. Creepy, creepy, creepy.
Shopping is the same everywhere. Here in Sicily, they even translate shopping as, wait for it, shopping. Today we dropped another tidy bundle of money at Conforama. During four grueling hours, we made it through the language barrier with good will (theirs), mangled Italian (ours), and a smidgen of help from the itranslate app. Have I mentioned I love my iphone? It is such fun to improve my Italian vocabulary via necessity and experience rather than a book and flashcards. For every second of frustration and anxiety over the language barrier, the thrills of comprehension and learning count for minutes.
Uno. Waking up in our new place, still exciting.
Due. Exploring what ‘kicking ass at life’ means to me, thanks to an awesome blog post by my brother.
Tre. Dining al fresco for every meal!
Quattro. Snuggling with Dave.
Cinque. Watched an interesting topic be mangled and with a good attempt, though boringly produced, dissected: the movie “Princess of Nebraska.”
This is my first trip to Ikea. I had seen the iconic Lego-esque building during many a Madison-to-Chicago trip. Yet, I had never stopped by. Here in Sicily, with new experiences by the handful, a part of me seeks to reconnect with the U.S. That, and a bigger home than I have had since living with my parents, spurred this shopping experience. Little did I know the popularity of Ikea with the Catanese. Now, I will mix a familiar U.S. shopping style with Sicilian compadres and blend familiar and new. Ciao for now, hopefully I will survive, wallet intact!