Money for nothing and more tax breaks for me
The Office, holiday tax edition

Happy, happy, the holidays are here!

Reindeer1I’m a Christmas nut. I think it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. I wait for 11 months for this one month of songs, decorations, TV specials (you go George Bailey!) and holiday food. The joy of celebrating Christmas is always in the back of my mind, so much so that I even co-opted the sentiment when I began this blog. Finally, finally, FINALLY it is here!

To kick off the season, we went out last night to a special sale at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. We hadn’t been out for a night drive in a while and we were delighted to see so many houses in our neighborhood already dressed for the holidays. Everything from a simple lighted wreath on the door to huge inflatable snowmen in yards to incredibly elaborate lighting displays that I’m sure were put up by professional decorators. There was a briskness in the air that I hadn’t felt in what seemed like ages, and it really truly felt like Christmas to me. Sure, folks in Florida decorated their homes, but for the six years we were there I couldn’t quite get over the persistent warmth in December and I always felt a bit cheated because the aroma of a burning fireplace wasn’t wafting through a brisk winter night. Well, that’s definitely no longer a problem.

The museum was, as always, great. All that Texas history and pride in one fabulous building. How can you not love a place that has Ray Benson (on video, alas, not in person) talking about the railways across the state? So getting to go there at night to a members-only event where we got to spend more of our money on Texas-themed holiday stuff was a thrill, for me, anyway. I’ll check with my husband and get back to you. Honestly, though, we didn’t go crazy. We mainly wanted to pick up one of the museum’s 2005 ornaments to commemorate our return to our native state. It’s a nice addition to our collection of decorations that we’ve bought over the years from every place we’ve ever lived or vacationed. Putting them on the tree is a chance each year to relive our travels.

We also bought some specialty foods -- a couple of Texas-spiced dip mixes. We are having a blast being back and finding that chili peppers really do go in just about everything. I haven’t found a chili-spiced ice cream yet, but I’m sure it’s out there.

An added bonus of the museum membership, in addition to offering more ways to give more to the museum, is that part of the member fee is tax deductible. A lot of charities count on year-end donations to help meet their budgets and a lot of individuals help the charities out because the gift also can help cut their individual tax bills.

The folks at Strengthen the Good have some ideas of places you can share your holiday spirit. If you want to stay in your own backyard, your local newspaper, TV station Web sites or an Internet search will help you explore the fun, meaningful and tax-deductible holiday events that philanthropic or foundation-funded groups in your area offer. It really doesn't matter what organization you choose to support. Just be generous. You’ll be giving the charities and yourself a very nice gift.


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