Monday 23 April 2018

Sinead Moriarty: Now is a time we have to stick together, so please buy Irish

AS THAT great orator George W Bush said: "It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it." And indeed it has. Numbers that would make your heart stop. Numbers that will require more financial juggling, planning and cutbacks in every home in the land.

Just as we prepare for Christmas, trying to make the day as cheerful as possible for our families, the Budget comes along and slaps us down. Like the Grinch, it tries to suck the happiness out of our holidays.

The last three Budgets have been particularly harsh, demoralising and, in a lot of cases, crushing. We're being kicked while we're down. So this year I've decided to deal with the Budget in a mature and adult fashion – I'm planting my head firmly in the sand.

When my four-year-old hears something she doesn't like, she puts her hands over her ears and sings at the top of her voice. That's my plan for the Budget this year. Childish? Yes. Avoiding harsh reality? Absolutely. It's a short-term solution, but I am determined not to let the Budget spoil Christmas. January is a miserable month anyway, let it ruin that.

It seems I'm not alone. I've never seen so many Christmas trees up in November. Every second car on the road has reindeer ears sticking out the windows and a red nose on the front bumper. People are getting ready for Christmas earlier than ever. We're determined to find some cheer in these stressful times.

Having decided to avoid the Budget blues, but still conscious of the financial squeeze, I decided to investigate ways of having a merry Christmas without breaking the bank.

Highly recommended as a budgetary plan is to make your own gifts. As someone who can barely thread a needle, I'm not sure that applies to me – or to many of the people I know.

The idea of the adult DIY gift is lovely. What better present to get than one that has had so much time and effort put into it? But not that many people are gifted (excuse the pun) at making things. Do you really want a knitted tea cosy with big holes in it for Christmas? Or a tea towel with your name stitched on it?

Can we not leave the making of the pen holder from lollipop sticks and string to our children? Do we really need to get it from our husbands on Christmas morning?

That brings me to another suggestion, the charity gift. You can buy a chicken, piglet, goat or fruit tree for a family in Africa. A lovely idea, it's the gift that keeps on giving. It embraces the spirit of Christmas. Doesn't it? When I suggested this to a friend as a possible gift option, she was very clear in her response.

"I do not want a picture of a chicken, that someone in Africa got, for Christmas. I'm not looking for something fancy, but is it too much to askfor something to unwrap?"

She has a point. And therein lies the key. The gifts you buy don't have to be expensive or big. Nor do they need to be jumpers that have taken six months to knit, or a lopsided birdhouse that your husband punctured his hand nailing together. Gifts just need some thought.

Let us try not to allow the Budget to suck the happiness out of our Christmases. Put your thinking cap on and surprise your loved ones with gifts that are thoughtful and will bring a smile to their faces.

Whatever gifts you decide to buy, remember to buy Irish. It's only by supporting and investing in each other that we'll help to get our economy off its knees.

Irish Independent Supplement

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