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My merry, bright, and on budget is going to be $440 which is lower than the expected average of $998 for an American Christmas.

I struggle with the guilt of “I should have bought more” until I remind myself that love isn’t transactional.

Merry Times

Though much of my focus is on the gilded gift-giving, the typical Christmas gift exchange lasts less than an hour compared to the other hours spent watching movies, cooking, and talking.

As I unwrap my memories, it is the time spent outside of the gift exchange that seem to be more memorable. Fond memories of Christmas in Jamaica when my one concern was, how is Santa going to find us? Then waking up to a wind-torn living room. For a few holidays, I spent time commiserating with shipmates instead of my family. Then there was the year we hiked instead of traveled.

Many memories that are warmed by the passage of time and cherished for their nostalgia.

Bright Light

This year will be one of those snowflake moments.

Our Christmas plans will be devoid of family. Instead, my husband and I will spend it with people in need. Our Christmas Eve was spent delivering meals to underserved families in our community. It took three hours to deliver 35 miles and it brought a lot of gratitude for what I already have this holiday season – love, laughter, and lattes.

Budget Friendly

Another way we enrich our Christmas and keep it merry, bright, and on budget is by going on a hike Christmas Day.

Montana has an abundance of scenic views, mountain vistas, and frozen lakes. We plan to take advantage of all those greener things!

The gentle swirl of snow, the evergreens swaying in the breeze, and following the meandering mountain trails sounds like a delightful way to enjoy the holiday season! I can’t think of a better way to relax and socially distance than in the wilderness.

Holiday Happiness

My expenses are similar to many other Christmas. However, this year will be vastly different from other years since Coronavirus has blown the traditional gatherings out like a candle.

As an optimist, I prefer to shift my focus to the merry, bright, and on budget part and the memories we will craft. After all, it’s not every year that I get to enjoy Christmas evergreen views with my favorite hiking partner.

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