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A poor mans holiday

The election is over, and for the most part, the politicians can bid adieu to the folks on Main Street. (Except the ones I voted for - they're saints.) All the other elected officials have lobbyists to meet with, wheels to grease and promises to ignore. Generally they can't be bothered by us real people who shoot our own moose or still attend hootenannies.

One thing's clear - after what feels like the longest election season ever, we don't need any more articles about politics. Anyway, I've been told that a good columnist writes pieces that are both meaningful to the teeming masses and that can be used, in a pinch, as fire starter during those long winter months. As such, this column includes a list of helpful tips for surviving the coming holidays in this cash-strapped season.

1. Get a real tree: To some, a plastic tree represents everything that's wrong with society. On the other side of the spectrum, they're a small timesaver. As you can see, opinions run pretty hot on either side of the aisle. (No politics, Zane, no politics!) But consider this - when you can no longer afford to heat the house, a real tree is going to look pretty appealing as firewood. Plastic trees, however storable they may be, should not be lit on fire.

2. Skip the Vacation: Some families feel the need to skip town during the holidays, preferring the warm beaches of Mexico or Hawaii to the perpetual drizzle of Oregon. But this year, why waste all that money traveling when you can have the same experience right here? The surf and sun are within reach at your local Mexican or surf-themed restaurant. Gazing at the tacky prefabricated pictures of youths on the beach, warmed by the heat rays of the fat fryer, you'll feel like a million bucks. I hear Taco Del Mar is especially beautiful this time of year.

3. Parties on the Cheap: The big holiday bash can be the highlight of your season, but there's no need for it to be so darn expensive. Why rush out and buy expensive crepe paper and confetti when you can make all those same decorations at home, using your worthless, worthless stock options? Simply find your stock certificates, rip them into thousands of pieces, and ta-dah! You've created something with actual value.

And if throwing a party isn't your style, that doesn't mean you can't attend one. Just load the family into the car, then drive around your neighborhood until you see a bunch of cars parked near one house. Introduce yourselves as 'friends of Bob' and mingle as much as you can. If anyone ever questions your legitimacy as guests, simply storm off in a huff while saying 'And to think I was the best man at your wedding!' They'll be so baffled they won't notice the seven portions of steak you stuffed under your holiday sweater.

5. No Greeting Cards: Those greedy cardmongers down at Hallmark would like nothing more than to see you wasting several dollars on expensive greeting cards that your in-laws and estranged friends from college will just throw out anyway. So outsmart them by sending out a festive holiday text message: 'sesonz gr33tng! HaP hols durin anotha 1dfl y3ar. D famlees goin strng. Jill hs str8 A's agn. Wsh u a mrry Xmas n a hapE Hanukah. Da Smithz.'

6. Handmade Gifts: Many people say that when it comes to gifts, it's the thought that counts. What they don't say is that the thought is 'what can I make in five minutes out of glue, dry macaroni, and stolen office supplies?' This year, lower your standards by giving gifts that contain no fewer than three noticeable splotches of glue. Those 'free trial' cd's you get in the mail? Those are ornaments, Frisbees for pets, or ornaments shaped like Frisbees for someone's pet.

The holidays are a time of giving. when people open their hearts and wallets to those in need and those they love. But in this over-commercialized season, isn't it time we took the money out of the holidays? And what a better time than during a conveniently timed economic meltdown? Now if you'll excuse me, I have some public domain carols to sing.

Zane Sparling is a sophomore at Lake Oswego High School. He writes a column every month for the Lake Oswego Review. Contact him via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..