Sally — “If it seems too complicated, make it easy on yourself – just send money. How about tens and twenties?”
My how the times have changed! This quote from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is 47 years old this year. The 1965 holiday classic centered around Charlie as he struggled to find the meaning of Christmas in the midst of all of the “commercialism”. Can you imagine what he might think today?
Sally’s request for tens and twenties wouldn’t get her very far this day in age, but the story and message remain very much relevant. During our discussions on financial planning, we explore the concept of “Enoughness”. Its definition can mean so many different things to so many different people; however it is critical in one’s quest to find prosperity. How can one be and feel prosperous if they somehow feel they don’t have enough? Let’s use some more holiday stories to explore this idea further.
What are frankincense and myrrh? Resins – dried tree sap if you will. The son of God is born and only 3 people bother to show up and two of them have tree sap for a gift. Hmmm, maybe there is something to be said here. It wasn’t about a show, it wasn’t about lights, and it wasn’t about impressing the other gift givers that might stop by.
Dreams in Christmases of old go far into the realm of the unknown for many of us. I am sure sugarplums are lovely, but to dream about them (They are small round pieces of candy, FYI, not fruit.)? I am sorry, but how many of us would be thrilled to see 6 geese a‑laying eggs on our floor Christmas morning. Better yet 8 maids a‑milking. Mind you if they are milking, there are probably 8 cows also in the living room.
Funny to laugh about today, these were the dreams people had long ago. The items mentioned were signs of prosperity and wealth that few people had and so many desired. Today, our obsession is about iPads, winning the neighborhood decoration contest, and seeing how few people can be fed with a 20 pound ham. Years ago simple, practical, useful gifts were so much desired they made it into the prose of the day.
Think about the self-sufficiency some of the items in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” would bring us, if we only had the room to store them. Surely the dairy products, poultry, and fresh fruit would feed us. And we would even have the gold to fight inflation. That is what “Enoughness” is about to many people. It doesn’t have to be about iPad 4’s.
I am amazed each holiday season at the number of luxury car ads. They are everywhere, yet I have never met a sole that had Santa drop off a Lexus. Mind you though, some of the ads are pretty great. I don’t always agree with financial guru Suzy Orman, but click here to see her at her finest.
This holiday season we could take some lessons from these funny stories. Consider value and utility when making your last minute holiday purchases. The stock market is still a good value, so consider buying stock as a gift. I made this same proposal in December 2008. Let’s see how we would have done with a $50.00 stock gift:
Dow Jones $76.55 up 53.10%
S&P 500 $81.34 up 62.67%
NASDAQ $97.69 up 95.37%
Emerging Markets $85.67 up 71.34%
Now that is a gift that keeps on giving! Some of the simplest things can make us feel safe and frugal yet very prosperous at the same time. Consider your Christmas wish this season and consider the wishes of those around you. Help someone either though generosity or education, find “Enoughness” and ultimately prosperity.
PS: As always don’t miss the annual Christmas Price Index released each year by The PNC Financial Services Group. This year the cost of giving someone “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is up, but in check. If you’ve got time to waste, click here, for Christmassy financial fun!