I can’t wait for Thursday.

For Thanksgiving, we hang out with my dad’s family in Starkville and eat like it’s our last meal, a smorgasbord of turkey and dressing, sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, and more. Then we loosen our belts and sit around shooting the bull and catching up, flipping from one football game to another, but not really watching any of them.

A few hours later, folks start creeping into the kitchen for one more bite of turkey or pecan pie. We keep this rhythm of eating and talking and resting going all day long.

I get a lot of peace from it. Truth be told, Thanksgiving might be my favorite holiday, because it’s what Christmas should be.

After Thanksgiving, we enter what I refer to as the Holiday Rollercoaster. You know what I’m talking about – where you don’t know what to get whom, or if you can pay for it. You may even scheme about who you can avoid buying a gift for.

Last year, Magnify Money, a financial education division of LendingTree, polled several hundred Americans about their holiday spending. Here’s what they found:

The average American took on over a thousand dollars in debt during the holiday season.

Of the respondents who took on debt, 64 percent said they didn’t plan to incur that debt.

Half of respondents who took on debt said they could pay off their debt in three months or less. Of the other half who took on debt, 29 percent said they’d need five months or more to pay it off.

Yikes.

Then there’s the pressure of going and doing, of decorating and appearing at every family and church function. It can really run you ragged.

Isn’t it strange how relieved you feel when “the most wonderful time of the year” has passed?

Lots of folks have come up with ways to declutter their Christmas.

One of my coworkers buys gifts for her children according to this rule: "Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.”

Instead of trying to visit every relative’s house on Christmas Day, some folks pick one or two gatherings to attend, then alternate the next year.

Even banks have gotten on the declutter bandwagon by offering savings accounts geared toward the holiday budget crunch. These accounts let you set up recurring deposits all year, then disburse your savings a couple of months before Christmas.  

Some folks love the Christmas rollercoaster. Many of them are in line at Hobby Lobby as we speak, buzzed out on pumpkin spiced cocoa and the Mariah Carey Christmas album.

Not me, though.

As a species, we have a knack for taking things that are supposed to be simple and making them complicated. It’s the one time of the year where we collectively cool off on working, and we choose to make more work for ourselves.

I long for a simplified Christmas, perhaps one void of gift giving altogether. Everyone in my life is doing better than they were last year. What more could I ask for?

RILEY MANNING is a fiction writer, former religion reporter for the Daily Journal, and a copywriter at Mabus Agency. Readers can contact him at rileymanning19@gmail.com.

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