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In the next three months, three big holidays will come roaring down Commercial Avenue. Already, all the orange and black trappings of Halloween are flooding stores from coast to coast. And only minutes away, zillions of products with a Thanksgiving motif will start packing shelves in all their autumn colored splendor. Approximately a second after that, stores will be inundated with mountains of red, green, gold and silver Christmas glitter and glitz.

And where will consumers be during these holiday avalanches? If they are tuned in to the usual holiday sales gambits, they will be buying their heads off. If tuned out, they will be traveling their own road, buying only holiday items that touch personal chords.

This is not to say that holidays should be bereft of spending. But since when did holidays become buying extravaganzas for Halloween skull business card holders, skeleton “thinker” statues, ghoul pinatas and blood splattered shower curtains; for Thanksgiving turkey finger puppets, bulbous turkey plastic plates, plush pilgrim hats and turkey hats (yes, hats shaped like turkeys with legs sticking up). And for Christmas Bubba Santa sweatshirts, mooning Santa vinyl figurines, inflatable antlers, inflatable angels with blue painted toenails (yep, I’ve seen em), jewel and sequin encrusted tree ornaments costing more than December’s meals and – aptly named for today’s pro consumers – cocktail napkins printed with “Santa, I want it all!” Will our children embrace this classy collection as part of their holiday tradition, one they will be passing on to their children? And does one laugh or weep at that?

As far as Christmas gifts, giving and getting them is fun. But overreaching a bank account or going into debt to buy them is not.

When did people stop using their own hands and imagination to make Halloween costumes, holiday decorations – Christmas gifts? One of the loveliest Christmas gifts I ever received was an afghan my sister crocheted for me years ago. I still curl up in it, cozy and comfy, on chilly nights. Not to worry – I’m not suggesting we all take up knitting and crocheting and start whipping up gifts of scarves and sweaters. But the more thought, the more of ourselves we put into a gift, the more meaningful it becomes for both giver and recipient,

Our own parents didn’t spend a fraction of what many people now spend on holidays. And our grandparents before them spent a whole lot less than that. Yet the glow of those past holidays was no less exciting or celebratory and we remember them no less fondly.

Over the top holiday spending has always embarrassed me. It’s as though consumerism was wringing that holiday by the neck and choking the spirit out of it.

So if you’ve been a high roller holiday spender in the past, and it’s left you feeling dissatisfied, out of sorts, guilty or just plain broke, give yourself a break this year. Let others spend their heads off and shop till they drop. Relaxed (and more flush), you’ll have more time and energy to enjoy the coming big holiday trio.

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