The first two months of the year, January especially, are what can only be described as infested with birthdays. Not a week goes by without one, some weeks have three or four scattered around to fill up my calendar. They aren't just any old birthday's either, the sort where I can just pop a card in the post or post a message on Facebook, these are important birthdays; parents, children, step children, grandchildren...
Every year it gives me a headache, sleepless nights even worrying about how I'm going to manage to send a grandchild a birthday present when I can't even afford to put the heating on. Every year I say this isn't going to happen again, I'm going to be much more organised in future and plan in advance like I used to. It's ironic really, when I was working and had enough money that I could buy birthday presents and cards as and when I needed to, I always planned in advance. If I saw something I liked, I'd buy it and put it away to use at a later date. If I saw pretty birthday cards I'd buy them straight away so I'd always got one handy if I forgot a birthday. Now, when I really need to do that I talk myself out of it, telling myself that the pound or two I'd be spending could be put to better use. And then panic when another birthday rolls around.
Well, no more.
Last week I made a start on my 'birthday box' by buying a load of cards. Card Factory is great for this, and often have 10 for £1 on basic cards or 5 for £1 for more special ones, so I spent £2 and bought 15. Now I have a card for just about every occasion and every age. Next week I shall add a book of stamps to the box.
Then I shall start keeping an eye open for little things I can use for gifts. It will take time to build up my box, and I'll have to keep replacing things as I use them, but if everything goes according to plan, come next year and the dreaded months of birthdays, all I'll have to do is go to my box and I'll have everything I need.