Excerpt from “Zero Budget Christmas”

In case I haven’t mentioned it enough, I have a book! It’s called Zero-Budget Christmas: The Almost Entirely True Story of Our Quest to Do Our Christmas Shopping Without Spending Any Money. And, well, that pretty much tells you everything about it.

But there are parts of it that are even more entertaining and informative than the title, and, since we’re kicking off the Christmas season in earnest this week with the ritual bloodletting that is Black Friday, I thought I’d post an excerpt from the book. I plan to sprinkle a few more throughout the season. Hope you enjoy, and if you do, the whole thing can be yours for a lousy 99 cents!

After much soul searching, it was decided that we had to make like grown-ups and buy a minivan. Oh, we spent considerable time in all the Stages of Minivan Denial…

Stage 1: Obliviousness – Bellowing, head-thrown-back laughter at the very thought of cool, young people like us ever buying one of those squared-off, cargo containers full of mom jeans and middle-aged regrets.

Stage 2: Denial – “We can get an SUV — or, better yet, a crossover — with a third-row seat. They’re cool, and every bit as good as a minivan. Like this one for example. Look how easy it is to get into that third row! You just pull this lever and crank this and slide that and clamber over, and boom! Look how easy! Hey, why is my hip bleeding?”

Stage 3: Head Turning – This is what happens when a close friend or relative buys a minivan, and you end up spending significant time in it. With us, it happened when my sister bought a 2010 Honda Living-Room-On-Wheels, complete with wireless headphones connected to the DVD system, and doors that opened with remote control, and I’m pretty sure there was a soft-serve yogurt machine in there somewhere. “I don’t want to drive this,” I thought, “I want to LIVE in it!”

Stage 4: Secret Shopping – Rachel and I had both spent time on car shopping websites separately, and when we talked about it, we compared notes on what cool SUVs or smooth, teardrop-shaped crossovers we’d perused. But now, we were starting to linger on the minivan pages. Without telling each other. Filled with shame, I covered the tracks of my browser history by going to lots of pages with more respectable content, like porn and bomb making.

Stage 5: Anger – As your eyes begin to open to the realization that the only sensible alternative for you is the minivan, no emotion grips you more than anger. It’s as if you’ve worked all your life to achieve a great reward, and that reward turns out to be a sandwich board you have to wear every day that says, “I am a schnook.”

…But reason prevailed, eventually. After overcoming the Anger phase (actually, you never overcome it; you just get it down to a low boil), we agreed that our young and growing family demanded an investment in a minivan, and we should start directing our energies to that end.

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