I drew the short straw this year and was assigned to write The Obligatory Thanksgiving Column. The pressure to be poignant is a bit overwhelming right now, especially since only 11 of you have time for leisure reading between grocery shopping, cleaning, packing, planning, and yelling at the kids.
Come to think of it, I have a lot of cleaning to do, too.
Don't get me wrong, there's a lot for which I'm thankful this year. But what makes me well up and get nostalgic is probably of little interest to you as you try to decipher the directions on that box of instant yams. Anyways, I'm sure you've got better stories. And if you don't, just steal one from Anna Quindlen, Dear Abby, or Dave Barry. That leaves me with the holiday money-savings strategies angle. (My editors remind me that this is a financial website, after all.) But my colleagues have covered that territory pretty thoroughly, robbing me of fresh material.
Columns I didn't get a chance to write
Fellow writer Robert Brokamp was just waiting for the first sign of fall to debut his "Couples and the Christmas Cash Crunch" article. (I don't know about you, but I was still running the air conditioning on Oct. 22.) He and his wife Elizabeth ran the numbers and came up with a reasonable -- and agreeable to both -- seasonal spending plan. They've left me nothing to do now that they've gotten the fighting out of the way before the relatives arrive.
Since my column is distributed mainly online, I thought about offering ways to save money by shopping online. That is, until I did a search on that topic. Fool Rick Munarriz is an advanced e-shopper who knows his way around the coupon and comparison websites. His article about being a smart e-shopper pretty much covers it all, much to my chagrin.
A few years ago longtime Fool Lydia Vorsteveld shared her ideas on trimming holiday spending. I was hoping that the article was woefully outdated. But her six tips still make sense and are easy to follow. Darnit. Other Fool community members have shared all sorts of great holiday savings ideas. We ran a compilation of their low-cost gift ideas, which covered everything from flowers, wrapping paper, and scrapbooks to charities, services, and auction shopping. In September. I was already trumped in September.
Actually, the good ideas ran out long before then. I can't top one community member's unique approach to heading off holiday overindulgence. This blueprint on fighting the crass commercialism of the season stuck with me over the years. Former Fool Ann Coleman took the idea and ran, writing "A Christmas You Can Afford" in 2001.
What about charity and investing? Done and done. Big-hearted Fools can click here for ideas on finding and evaluating a charitable organization. If you have some "turkeys" in your portfolio, here's a bit of advice.
I've done my bit for the genre as well, writing about holiday survival tips, re-gifting (admit it, you've done it, too), and sticking to a savings plan during the spending time of year. Last week I inadvertently made more work for myself this week by suggesting a few ways to bring sanity back to the holidays.
So what does that leave me with? Besides a huge craving for the pumpkin cheesecake my friend Jenny is serving on Thursday evening, I'm kind of at a loss. But by stewing and complaining for the past 600 or so words, my Thanksgiving column-writing duties have been met. For this, I give thanks.