Americans Are Doing More, Buying Less

In the past our family would go to exotic places like Mexico over the holidays, this year we stayed home

In the past our family would go to exotic places like Mexico over the holidays, this year we stayed home

There’s an interesting article in the New York Times about how American families are spending less money in these Recessional times and instead spending more time doing activities together.

The article features Rosario and Igor Montoya, who used to buy things like crazy for their kids. Since their income has dropped, now they spend the weekends paddling around in a pink canoe they bought secondhand, making boats and statues out of the sticks and rocks they find on the islands near Biscayne Bay.

I’ve never been big on shopping (in fact, I’d rather have swine flu than go to the mall) but our family was definitely part of this national trend of buying less and doing more over the holiday break.

In the past over the holidays we’ve traveled to exotic places like Loreto, Mexico.

This year we stayed home.

We spent our time together going on family hikes (don’t get an idyllic picture here. We dragged the kids outside kicking and screaming), scootering to the park, making elaborate dinners with dishes like roasted beets in pistachio nut butter and homemade gnocchi, having family clean-up sessions to Janet Jackson (volume: loud–both the music and the whining), and playing card games together: Uno, Crazy Eights, and Go Fish.

On New Year’s Day we played Apples to Apples (Etani, Leone, and I were one team since Etani can’t read and Leone can’t hold her head up completely) and James made figgy pudding (as in “Oh, bring us some figgy pudding; Oh, bring us some figgy pudding…”), which has to steam for three hours on the stove.

We won’t even be going on a road trip anytime soon. Our car, a compact Geo Prizm, only seats five people so now that Leone is here we would have to rent a car for all six of us to drive anywhere together. But I’m not complaining. Though part of me is sorry that we don’t have the money in our budget to visit family back East or go someplace warm and fabulous this year, mostly I’m just grateful to be where we are.

Besides, the kids are clamoring to learn to play poker. That should keep us busy for a long time to come.

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8 thoughts on “Americans Are Doing More, Buying Less”

  1. Spot on, Jennifer. Our son is in his twenties, so we’re empty nesters now. However, even before the recession (and when our son was younger), our family made a point of using our creativity instead of our wallets to enjoy our free time. From playing board games to dancing to loud music at home (which you noted in your post), there are so many fun ways to connect without spending lots of cash. We also played “tourist in your own hometown,” which is a great way to get to know your own community. It’s amazing how many people haven’t even been inside there public libraries — where many wonderful free activities are hosted for kids and families. As my son will tell you, those are the times that are remembered later on — more than the fancy trips.
    .-= Cindy La Ferle´s last blog ..Now on the stands =-.

  2. Sounds like a divine holiday break to me! Ours was very similar, only cue a lot more television and movies and a lot less of the outdoors (we had colds and negative 35-degree windchill for half the break).

  3. Every year I say I am going to simplify it. This year circumstances demanded that. I enjoyed selecting one nice gift for each of my son’s family members. And, that was it! I spent down time with friends. Did no rushing around and made an exercise of keeping the spirit of good will alive. My favorite example. I let someone who seemed to be in a hurry go ahead of me at the hair salon. When I was leaving, the stylist told me that this grateful person had paid for my haircut.

    I got a warm, fuzzy feeling reading your description of your holiday activities. Some thoughtful gifts are always fun to give and get. But, the age old adage is tried and true. We all want and need the best gift of all. Loving time together. A precious commodity.

  4. When I think back to my childhood, it was the experiences that I remember most fondly. We once drove across the country in a station wagon, camping along the way. Stuff like that. I do remember maybe two toys that I was fond of. But I mostly remember what we did together.
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..How to Accept Defeat, Part 3 =-.

  5. I think you are right, that fewer people will be going on vacation this year. I can tell you no one is visiting the Web site for my B&B, whereas last year, I had a number of bookings already by mid-January. Family vacations do stick with you. I particularly remember our old Dodge breaking down in Baltimore, before there was a tunnel.
    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..The Little Coffee Shop That Could =-.

  6. One of my favorite things to do with my kids – who are now in their 20’s – is to prepare Thanksgiving dinner all together, each one responsible for a dish. More than travel, this gives us great time together. And when we have the occasional blackout, I like it even better – there are no distractions at all, and that’s the best time to sit around and do something so many of us forget how to do – TALK.

    My fondest memories from my childhood are just these – baking cookies with my grandmother, and camping out in the backyard, making up stories with my siblings.

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