Holiday spending often exceeds expectations

By Ryn Gargulinski: Columnist

Never mind jingle bells, Nativity scenes or winter wonderlands. The best part of the holiday season is now in full tilt —the shopping.
Sure, haggling through crowds isn’t so joyous. But spending money is.

It’s not only fun but therapeutic. Some New York friends of mine have saved hundreds of dollars in psychiatrist fees just by self-diagnosing.

“All I need is shopping therapy,” my friend Wendy said every time we’d meet at Brooklyn’s Salvation Army. OK, maybe we’d end up spending thousands, rather than the hundreds the good doctors would charge, but we also had some fine, albeit gently used, clothing.

Holidays take this shopping to a hilt. A recent consumer report said the average American spends $800 for gifts.

“No way did I spend that much,” said my cousin Brian, adding he and his wife aren’t even exchanging gifts per se this year, since he already bought her a minivan.

All I need to do is check the weight on the gift boxes my parents sent from Michigan to my new Arizona home to tally more than $800 on postage alone.

And the gift to myself — moving from a rainy, gray climate to a desert basked in sun — easily totaled more than $2,000 when one adds in the truck rental, gas, food for the road and the 22 new sundresses I needed to look good in Tucson.

New Mexicans, of course, are not exempt from the $800 mark.
A spree sponsored by Clovis’ Fraternal Order of Eagles meted out $10,000 for 100 kids to have a shopping extravaganza.

Even when the sprees aren’t sponsored by generous organizations, one can keep up with the $800 status quo — especially in the Land of Enchantment.

This is explained by the number of items every New Mexico house must have to truly make it a home.

Like Kokopelli. Although that same consumer report said 92 percent of all New Mexico homes already own at least one of these fertile little figurines, there’s nothing wrong with owning two — or 47. Especially when innovative Kokopelli designs are always popping up. Like those made of tin, gold or recycled beer cans. Or those adorned with names, feathers or rhinestones.

Since I’ve not seen Kokopelli like these, I think I’ll start making them to offset my $2,000 gift bill.

No New Mexico home is complete, either, without at least one horseshoe.

This can’t be any ordinary shoe, but must have some special significance —like costing $800. These can be embossed with gold, silver or even rare bone. Since no horse comes with only one leg, the household would not be complete with at least four of these things.

Other items round out the gifts, including turquoise jewelry, overpriced leather pouches and a spoon rest in the shape of a cowboy boot. Don’t forget the boots themselves, an excellent gift that often surpasses $800 without even trying. Anyone who frets about their spending can always save money quite easily.

Next time the urge to shop hits, simply go see a psychiatrist.