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December 03, 2007


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As a financial planner, I can't even begin to tell you how many clients come to me drowning in debt. Sometimes I'll go to their houses and see that they've purchased something so incredibly stupid and fiscally irresponsible, it's mindboggling.

Or at least it would be if it didn't happen ALL the time!


Happy Chanukkah!

MD, you know you want to do this. Eight nights of fried food. Tonight we started with latkes. C'mon, potato pancakes with a mound of sour cream. Tomorrow it's fried chicken (hey I'm a 4th Gen Texas Jew). Then it's onto the jelly donuts. And on and on until the arteries are clogged.

It's a miracle!

No props to Dennis Miller for the credit card lift?


We have a Fisher Price nativity scene that our toddler plays with. I tell him that we're celebrating the baby's birthday on Christmas.


I'm from the Caribbean and when I came to America, I was shell-shocked by the gifts that are poured on everybody at Christmas. We went shopping at an outlet mall (think The Gap, J. Crew) over Thanksgiving and THEN I was told to write a Christmas list! That certainly does not happen in Jamaica, that's for sure. But I was a teenager at the time so it's not like I protested against receiving all those lovely presents.

Now that I'm older (hence, wiser? Ha!) I'm more back into the mindset of not really seeing the point of all the excess. It helps too that Christmas is always spent with the hubby's family and we put each other's name in a hat, draw a name and buy a gift for that person only. And the limit is $60. Of course the hubby and I gift each other little things, but an arrangement like this takes a great deal of pressure off us all and keeps our credit rating nice and shiny.People just need to get real.


Am I off base in recommending "Bad Santa"? I just love this little gem of a movie. I liked it the first time I saw it and have grown more fond of it with each viewing. While it may not capture the true "essence" of christmas, it is a touching masterpiece which will endure forever. I particularly love the dressing room scene.


I think the extreme consumerism here in the States is partly a byproduct of how easy it is to get credit here. On the one hand, it's great that we have a nation filled with homeowners. On the other hand, access to easy capital leads to many Americans living so far beyond our means. It scares me when I hear stories of overextended families spending money on plasma TVs yet having no retirement savings at all. It's all bound to come to a crashing halt at some point, isn't it?


Wow you're better than me. We're just telling Thalia that Christmas is about the family being together, everyone being nice to each other, and Santa coming in at night and bringing her some presents. But mostly about the family being together. (ahem)

Meanwhile Nate would happily buy anything in that Hammacher Schlemmer catalog while eating that $200 wheel of gouda and said as much today in fact.


For the "good will towards men", your family could spend Christmas doing things to help those less fortunate. Even a 3 year old can learn and benefit from that.

Little Bird

Why not tell Peanut about St. Nick? The guy who really did go around giving gifts to those less fortunate? He was from a really rich family, and when he inherited he basicly gave it all away to those who had nothing. You could turn this into a tradition where you and Peanut go to a toy store, buy a lot of inexpensive toys and bring them to a "gift drop-off" point, or tie them to a "tree" in an underdeveloped neighborhood. My parents did this with me when I was verry young. Of course I got a huge dose of the religion too, and no Santa. I didn't even hear about Santa 'till kindergarten. Santa probably comes from St. Nick, who was cannonized for his good deeds.
If you avoid the "St." part you still have a positive, non-consumer,or rather non-materialistic tradition to work with. Sorry if someone else already said it. I was in such a hurry to pass on what "pearls of wisdom" as I might have that I didn't read ALL of the comments.



(i) Are you truly struggling with your faith?


(ii) Are there certain things that you don't want to give up or stop doing in case you decide to become a committed Christian?

I used to say that I "struggled" with my faith when, in actuality, I wanted to keep living the way I was living. At the end, I knew that I would have to pick one -- live the way God wants me to live OR live the way I think is best for me and only me.

If you already assume that God knows best (and I get the sense that you know this is true), I would live the way God wants me to live.

Don't take a chance on such this big question in life. Good luck. I wish you well. :)


Friends of mine have always handled this by doing stockings today (St. Nicholas Day) with the story that goes with it. That's the closest to Santa they get. ON Christmas Day they go to church & have a nice meal. On Epiphany, when the Wise Men arrived, that's when gifts are exchanged. I think its not only a nice way to emphasize the real point to the holidays, but also shows the real reason for the gifts...not just "because".


My sentiments exactly -- vis-a-vis the insanity of holiday shopping! This year, to combat the feelings of emptiness that I always feel after a big holiday shopping binge, I have decided to buy shares of farm animals from heifer international for my closest friends and family members. For $25, you get a share of a waterbuffalo that will benefit a poor family in Cambodia for a year or more! Plus - these animal gifts tie in beautifully w/ my 3-yr-old daughter's obsession w/ farm animals! I feel good being charitable, and my friends get expensive holiday cards, er, charity gifts given in their honor.

Perhaps emphasizing charity and giving -- rather than Santa and "getting," is the best way to indoctrinate a sense of goodness in your little one. That's what I'm trying to do, at least.

Great post!

Sarah Marie

'Tis the $eason, indeed!

MD, this was a good post. For what it's worth, I think you've already won.


We have 2 kids-5 and 2-and our tradition every year is while my husband wrestles with the 3000 lights we put on our tree, we clean out all our toys and fill bags (this year we had 4 full bags!) with toys we don't play with anymore (but are still practiacally brand new!)to give to kids who don't have toys. we then all sit down to watch a Charlie Brown Christmas.

For our extended family, the adults have started giving to designated organizations/charities in each other's names instead of giving useless gifts and gift cards. Seriously...who needs another Starbucks gift card?!? And i am BEGGING the grandparents to limit the gifts to the kids to ONE!

oh, last thing...i have a new rule after my son opened up 2 gifts last year before Christmas. If he opens a gift before Christmas, we give that gift to a child who doesn't have a Christmas gift. He has stayed away from the tree so far this year!

We are trying!


One word.




I hear you, I hear you, I hear you!

Not including my small business clients, each other, and our parents, we have 16 kids to buy presents for and we don't have kids!!! Can you imagine when we do have kids?!

The cost is mind blowing. I'm trying to cut costs where and when I can. My wife is an excellent deal hunter and has really done a great job this year, as always, in saving us money on our presents for the kids.

Honestly, there is that stigma of "being cheap". Like any of these kids are hurting for clothes or toys! I won't buy toys for kids. Not that clothes is that much better, but most of our friends will hand clothes down to the younger ones and across family lines. So I feel better about it.

Business wise, I want to send all my clients canvas shopping bags, like HYG said, "another Starbucks card?" But it's easy to ship and get out the door quickly. And I want to be sure they remember me, our livelihood depends on it! I wanted to send them canvas shopping bags, with something that carries my logo (of course). Then I'm being environmentally conscious and giving something useful. But I didn't plan accordingly for that and I'm unsure how far it will go in winning points with them.

Uggghhhh! It just takes all the joy out of the season for me.

I have a friend, my best friend, his kids are showered with gifts at all occasions. I truly believe those kids will benefit more from my time with them, helping to reinforce the message of true giving, family and friendship. Toys and clothes just won't ever do that for them. So, I resist the urge to compete (the oldest got a Burberry jacket for his 1st birthday from an associate of my friend -- can't begin to hang with that anyway) and I do my best to shower those kids with all the love I have for them and their parents.

Ahhh, I needed to get that off my chest, thanks.


I'm Korean and we celebrated Festivus long before it ever saw the light of day. In fact I distinctly remember the drop off of presents when we turned 10. Suddenly it was one present shared by all of us, say SCRABBLE. Frankly we always got stuff when we needed it year round. So something like gee whiz socks as stocking stuffers didn't quite make sense for us. Then I remember the Xmas tree staying assembled until MAY one year along w/the wreath and that's when the decision was made to stop putting up the tree.

Well fast forward and now our poor 18 month old is running around Target like a maniac pointing at the fake trees and decorations screeching in Korean, LOOK AT THIS!!! over and over again. As if he landed from another planet. Because you see, though I married out both my husband and I are NOT into decor holiday style, hell we're STILL debating whether or not to put up a garland on our fireplace mantel b/c it would require hammering nails into it or something and we just don't have the mental energy to figure out an alternative. Plus, if we did have a tree up he'd wind up eating all of the parts to it. Plus the garland. Oh and he figured out how to climb up on the dining room table the other day.

I think I'm going to have to send him to boarding school. Like right now.

the new girl

You are the smartest, funniest writer around. This post is awesome.

An upside-down tomato garden and a voice activated R2D2.



You know, if you didn't like the gouda wheel I sent you, you could have just said so. You think it was easy getting that thing in the mailbox?

I just bought an R2-D2 and it is AWESOME.


Bossy is way depressed about those shopping statistics. She may even steal all the presents from every house in Whoville.


This is off topic: http://jezebel.com/gossip/smell-of-success/got-stank--nullo-may-help-333024.php
The cure for smelly feet?

Rachel E.

Hi Drew. Did you ever get past 7 pins? You're a kick-ass bowler - woo hoo!


In fact I did, but only because it was my birthday. Thanks for your gift of compassion, patience and understanding (Charlie Brown would totally agree, R2-D2 not so much)

devra renner

MD Wrote, "No Santa. No religion. And no presents. What's fucking left?"

I'm going to answer this question as any Jew would. And with me being Jewish, I feel I am qualified to tell you the answer is, "Food."

devra renner

I also recommend the Fisher Price line of Little Religious People. I'm not sure if they are part of the lead recall, since our kids are older than Peanut and we've not been buying stuff for the smaller set very often these days.
We have http://www.amazon.com/Fisher-Price-B8042-Little-People-Hanakkuh/dp/B000219XTQ but they also make,http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?st=2053&e=storeproduct&pid=34128


Watch this:


It pretty much sums up the idea with neat little cartoons.

You'll be even more pissed after watching it though.

Sarah Marie

So are we gonna see any pictures of your daughter and Santa this year???????


Take your little sunshine to the store with you to buy the most environmentally responsible deposable cups you can. Then, on the next particularly cold day, make a pot of coffee or hot cider and hit the streets together (you could carry them in an empty soda flat,). Give the coffee/cider out to the homeless, the cold, or the visably grumpy (or all three). There.
Merry Christmas.


Sweet Lord, that was supposed to be DISPOSABLE!


I hope you're just busy with life in general.... looking forward to another post soon!


This morning, while sitting on the training potty and playing with the tiny Hello Kitty notepad and pen she got from her advent calendar, DD asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I said that I want to have a nice time with my family. She didn't like that answer. Then I said books, and she didn't like that either. Then I said a car, and she replied, "a big car or a little car"? To which I replied "a big car". This made her happy, because she was able to draw a picture of a big car on her pad. I guess good times and books did not inspire her artistic abilities.

Hey metrodad, I'm in NYC next week. Can you recommend good places to take two year olds? I'm thinking the Natural History Museum. Any good exhibits there that you recommend?


Bring on the peanut and Santa pic. Cant wait to see. They are always so hilarious.

the mad momma

Hey Metrodad... any more christmassy posts coming up?


I'm pondering breaking the news to my oldest re: Santa. She's very fantasy driven though, and has dragons for friends (no imaginary friends through toddlerhood, oddly enough). I think she understands these things aren't real but she is a firm believer in magic, and I've always told her if she believes it, something exists, so I think she believes it in the sense its alive in her imagination.

However, she recently got into trouble at school and has been pondering whether she'll get coal in her stocking... I'm thinking she'll get the couple of gifts she normally does in her stocking (Santa leaves the actual gifts to family members, and just fills her stocking, so its less commercial), and a piece of coal, to remind her to behave in school... and because I have a bit of a twisted sense of humor...


Christmas in the park in San Jose downtown. It’s free. After 6 pm panrikg is free too. Lots of lights and entertainment for kids.Also, Union square, San Francisco, Niles Light train – Niles area/fremont have christmas lights too. Was this answer helpful?

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For the last week, I've been using the Big Jambox during conference calls in speakerphone mode (utilizing the builtin microphone), streaming music during the workday from my computer, and at the end of the day, unplugging it and carrying it out to the backyard for some music while dining al fresco (via Bluetooth from my phone's playlist).


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MetroDad: Shopocalypse Now! What IS Christmas?
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