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You feel it when you smell a crackling fire or when you hear a favorite carol. Maybe it bubbles up when you pull out the nativity scene that has been passed down over generations.
That feeling of Christmas nostalgia: Those moments when you see or smell or hear something and you’re instantly transported back to previous yuletide years—like road trips to Grandma’s or cookies left for Santa. Reflecting on Christmases past can be a gift. And, believe it or not, nostalgia can make you a better gift-giver too!
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That Cozy Feeling
You feel all warm inside when you think about that Christmas when the power went out and the whole family camped out in the living room. That fuzzy feeling inside isn’t just your emotions. Studies have shown that when you think about happy memories, your body warms up. Literally. But that’s not the only benefit of nostalgia: When you remember a fond experience, you’re more likely to feel more generous!
Nostalgia and Shopping?
Remembering when Santa left a bike under the tree doesn’t make you want to go shopping. Not directly, anyway. But when you take the time to remember good memories, you experience:
- A better mood
- Lower stress
- Feeling connected
- Feeling loved
- Higher self-esteem
- A more meaningful life
- Optimism about the future
When you’re feeling loved by and connected to others, then you’re naturally more giving toward them. You’re even more likely to give to strangers.
Gift-Giving on a Budget
Now, we don’t want you to break your budget when you’re shopping for gifts. Nothing ruins the Christmas spirit like worrying about how you’re going to pay the bills. Just follow a few simple steps and you’ll be as jolly as old Saint Nick himself.
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- Set your budget. How much money do you have to spend on gifts? How much do you have set aside for travel, food and other expenses? Know these numbers before you start the month. That will save you a lot of stress and frustration.
- Make your list. Before you go shopping, create a list of people you’re buying for and how much you’re willing to spend on each person. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a gift for your third cousin on your dad’s side, but you’re likely to do that if you don’t set spending limits.
- Check it twice. Your balance, that is. Keep track of your spending. It’s easy to throw that receipt in your wallet and forget about it. After you leave each store, take a second to note how much you spent. Subtract that from the total amount you decided to spend on that person.
- Be thoughtful. With all the commercials, you might think spending lots of money is a sign of love. That’s not true. A simple gift that’s unique to each person’s personality, likes and hobbies shows that you pay attention. Being known and understood is the real gift.
Nostalgia is a great thing—as long as it moves you forward in your life, not backward.
Nostalgia is a great thing—as long as it moves you forward in your life, not backward. Don’t let those fond memories send you back into debt. Instead, focus on the true spirit of Christmas. Spend time with family and friends. Give out of love, not guilt. Show kindness to a stranger. Volunteer. Those are the elements of a Christmas to cherish both now and in years to come.
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