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Winter salsa.

thYears ago a co-worker of DF’s – and a newcomer to the state – was puzzled by all the references to a “Mexican holiday” in December. Finally she asked him a most Emily Litella-like question: “What’s all this about ‘winter salsa’?”

This so charmed DF that he brought corn chips and salsa to work in honor of the misheard word. He continued to do so annually because who doesn’t need a little bit of spice in the waning days of the year?

On Sunday, winter solstice, the light came back. Or, rather, it stopped going away. We gained five seconds worth of sunshine on Monday and by gum we enjoyed all five.

But we rejoiced on Sunday, too, lighting a candle to encourage the sun to return and, yes, cooking something with salsa. We didn’t have any corn chips so DF crafted goose taquitos topped with salsa. The game birds came from a friend who wanted to pay back a favor, and yes, they were gamey.

Or so DF says. I didn’t eat any because I’m down with that virus everyone else seems to have gotten out of the way: sore throat, cough, aches, chills. It stinks to be sick this close to Christmas. On the bright side it’s getting me out of having to eat gamey goose.

I’m dreaming of an affordable Christmas

I’d planned to have a few people over on Christmas Eve to sing carols and eat (non-goose) snacks. Scratch that, though: I’m not exposing anyone to this particular bug because it’s pretty unpleasant. I’ve felt too low even to put up my small Christmas tree, although that may happen tomorrow.

Today I did manage to wrap my remaining few gifts and was reminded of how affordable Christmas 2014 has been. In all I spent less than $40 for gifts for nine people (some of whom received several presents apiece).

Like many other frugalists, I combined tactics to keep costs low. These include:

  • Regifting: just one item this year, and it was brand-new
  • Yard sales/thrift shops: three books
  • Rewards credit cards: I cashed in for a slew of gift cards and wrapped ’em up, since my family and friends aren’t averse to plastic presents
  • Watching the clearance racks: two gifts, $7
  • Amazon gift cards: I got these through the Swagbucks program and since I’m a Prime member didn’t pay for shipping
  • The free-after-rebate section of the Walgreens Black Friday ad (I got a lot of items for the women’s shelter that way, too)
  • Giving small items from the conferences I attended (these make great stocking stuffers).

Luck played a part, too. I won a $10 prepaid Visa at one of those conferences (who’s gonna turn that gift down?), a $10 credit at a local gifts shop in the Regis Salon “Clip for the Cure” drawing (which paid for two very nice Alaska-crafted soaps) and a “date night” package from the Hospice of Anchorage raffle (whose elements became three different presents).

Gift-giving is important to me but financial security is even more important. Going into debt for a holiday just isn’t smart. But on the morning of Dec. 25, when I watch my great-nephews open their gifts, I’ll be awfully glad that I could give something.

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday, and thanks for sticking with me for another year.

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25 Comments

  1. Tina in NJ

    Merry Christmas, Donna (and DF). Hope you feel better.

  2. maryegankirk

    have a lovely holiday!

  3. Hi, Donna – Best wishes for a speedy recovery and no more bugs next year. I got through final exams 🙂 R

  4. Sue klapmeier

    Love you posts, your writing!! It’s a gift from you, too!

  5. Winter salsa, hilarious! Happy holidays!

  6. Merry Christmas to you and DF, Donna, and I hope you feel better! Our family was down with a nasty bug over the past couple of weeks, and it’s miserable. Hope you’re feeling better by Christmas!

  7. Thanks for another year of sound advice dealt with great humor. Merry Christmas and feel better…..

  8. Merry Christmas, Donna. Your posts are always encouraging, and help keep me inspired to live more frugally. It seems as though we Texans would have some kind of “Winter Salsa” holiday, but this is the first I’ve heard of it. Maybe I’ll start my own tradition. 😀

    Wishing you and your family a very happy (and frugal) 2015!

  9. Gipssy T Lupin

    Merry Christmas! I am a recent convert and find your posts so fascinating and helpful. Thank you for all you have taught me in this short period and thank you for the book I won. I wish you a speedy recovery and much love health and happiness to you and yours, now and in the new year!

  10. Merry Christmas to you and yours Donna!
    I also am celebrating a “thrifting and re-gifting” Christmas, but I always do 🙂

  11. Happy Winter Salsa to you, and I hope you feel well enough to enjoy Christmas tomorrow!

    We didn’t do so well with our Frugal Christmas this year: our homemade cocoa mix and marshmallows idea grew to include hand-decorated mugs and homemade spiced Kahlua (yum!), and of course I had to get all organic/non-GMO ingredients…. fortunately, it didn’t blow our budget, but it wasn’t tat all he cost-saver I’d imagined! A few items broke in shipping, and we’re filing claims with USPS… will let you know how THAT process goes!

    In any case, we’re sending you our very best wishes from Austin for happy– and HEALTHY– New Year!

  12. I think I would rather have a mild case of the flu than eat that goose, too!
    Merry Christmas, Donna. You have been an inspiration for me ever since my ex left with all my savings (I had a pension and he did not). It was scary to face retirement with no savings, but I was in much better shape than you were after your divorce. Your words of pluck, cheer, and frugality carried me through.
    So to you and yours, I wish you God’s blessings this season.

    • Donna Freedman

      Oh my gosh….Thanks for those kind words. The reason I write is to help people examine their lives, and it’s good to know that it sometimes makes a difference. I hope your finances have rebounded completely. Merry Christmas!

  13. Merry Christmas!!! Hope you feel better fast. 🙂

  14. Cathy in NJ

    Merry Christmas to you and your family. Thank you for all the gifts your writing has given me throughout the year. The gifts of finding out about discounted gift cards, building a mini prepper store in my basement, bradsdeals, swagbucks and more that have made my daily life better.

  15. Sorry to hear that you are under the weather. I love the idea of the winter salsa. A friend gave me two bags of coriander(I think you Americans call it cilantro). I was wondering what to do with it. I have some tomatoes and limes so I think a salsa would be lovely to surprise my guests tomorrow.
    Get well soon.

  16. Thank you for your website and your daughter too. I try and read both of them every couple of days. Hope you are feeling better and Enjoy the holiday.

  17. I wish you and all your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and happy year ahead. I have learned so much from you the past several years. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Merry Christmas and may 2015 be a year of health and happiness for you and all your readers.

  19. Happy Holidays to you!

  20. I do hope that you are up and running now! I hate being sick and I’ve dodged the messy, coughing thing-y that is going around now. I’m not saying my nephews were involved but……………….
    I hope that you have a blessed and truly prosperous New Year! Oh and frugal, can’t forget frugal.

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