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HEATHER HUYBREGTS: Think about what really matters this holiday season

Christmas shopping. - Stock
Christmas shopping. - Stock

Well folks, it’s happening: Michael Buble has re-emerged from his cocoon, once again heralding the return of the season-of-giving. 

Shopping malls have exploded in a festive potpourri of red, green and gold; everything from candles to feminine-hygiene products are showcased in cozy scents like 'warm apple cider', 'frosted evergreen' and 'Nan's rum cake'. Ugly Christmas sweaters are no longer just “every turtlenecked number great-aunt Carol wore to every event in the ‘80s”; nay, they’re all the rage!

Pop-up stores that we didn’t even know we needed suddenly emerge, blessing us with puppy calendars and drinking games anew. 

Marketing muscles are being flexed hard — New-Year's-resolution-gym-selfie style — this time of year. And it’s attractive. Oh yes, it’s mighty attractive. We, the starry-eyed consumers, allow it — the magic of the hustle and bustle — to consume us. It is wonderful and captivating and oh-so-easy to sink into the peppermint-mocha swirl of it all.

In our house, we (think we) resist it. Hubby and I don’t exchange gifts (instead, we just agree to eat and drink ourselves into a happy, mutual oblivion.) And, in order to avoid temptation, we boycott the malls and do our shopping online. Which means huge cost savings...ish. 

Did you know that once you enter a search term into an online shopping site, that searched item continually pops up in your email, your Facebook feed, your shower, your dreams? Likewise, the online store itself lets you know every 18.5 seconds about the latest discount. Black Friday apparently is just code for “about six to 10 days of deals, but only on the things you don’t need."

Surprise, kids: a twin air mattress, 300-pound capacity. Saved 80 bucks on that sucker.

Twelve pounds of mulch? Don’t mind if I do.

And who DOESN'T need a 100-piece socket set, am I right? (*entering credit card information* Note to self: find out what a “socket set” does.)

I went online the other day and typed “books for three-year-olds” and, within 30 minutes, I was trying to explain to my husband all the reasons why we need a six-person tent!

One thing we tried to put our foot down on, though, was that Elf on the God-forsaken shelf, with it’s 1950s-style hard, plastic baby face and shifty eyes. And he comes with a certificate for official naming purposes (ya know, for peace of mind that ol' Virgil here is legit). We have made it through six glorious years of parenthood without one. 

But on Dec. 1, that felted little dude showed up at our place. And good thing Santa sent him directly because the knock-off store models are running $40. Which is absolutely insane. They might cost $0.80 apiece to make. And not that I've ever lifted one — because that ruins its magic — but a rough eyeballing clocks him in at about the weight of a half-eaten pack of raisins. So: small guy, not much material, $40. That’s one mark up! I don’t want to say that I’m “jealous” of the brilliant, now-billionaire who thought up this beloved nuisance that now every child HAS to have… But yes, I am profoundly jealous. She is probably sitting on her yacht in Cabo right now, sipping frozen rum-n-egg-nogs. And so she should be: cheers to THAT gal. 

...the magic will be there whether we pay for it or not. 

But all of that is only relevant if “Cookie McJingles” (yes, that is what my children have named him; I’ve never been more proud) weren't coming directly from Santa. Which he is. So this point is moot.

Shopping and elves aside, who am I kidding? I’m a holiday fanatic! I wish (my husband wishes) I wasn’t sitting here right now, braless, in my fleece Christmas jammies (featuring gingerbread men, candy canes and a giant penguin dressed as a Christmas tree), but they’re just too cozy and irresistible this time of year. And yes, if you must know, I am listening to ol’ Mikey Bub’s Christmas album (that man can sing me my notice of assessment from the CRA and still make me want to curl up by a fire.)

The magic of the season is undeniable. Without the presents. Without the screaming credit cards and a poverty-stricken January. So don’t overdo it with the spending (unless you can).

Because the magic will be there whether we pay for it or not. 

P.S. You probably DON’T need that lifelike bust of Elvis that doubles as a dehumidifier. You’re welcome. 

Heather Huybregts is a mother, physiotherapist, blogger (, YouTuber and puffin whisperer from Corner Brook, NL. Her column appears biweekly.  


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