I read a headline recently on CNN.com: Jobless mom feels guilt over no $600 toy spree.
I can feel for this mother. This year we are cutting way back as I started my own business and we watched a chunk of our savings evaporate. I feel horrible that the tree won't be full of our gifts for our kids. Somehow, without thinking about it, Christmas gifts became a sign of how much we love our children. It was the time to dote on them and try to get the perfect thing that would light up their faces and be washed in their hugs.
So, when my husband and I laid out the budget this year, I cringed thinking about how in the world I would be able to get my children anything. A single toy, the big gift would take up the whole budget. What about stocking stuffers, pajamas, candy, and silly underwear? I get into an irrational negotiation mode trying to haggle with my husband over an extra $50 for each of our three kids.
Back to reality, and we are looking at Christmas as it is intended, a time for family. Every year we would load up the kids, dogs, suitcases, skis, and presents and head up for a family Christmas in New Hampshire. Thirteen grandkids of all ages would run about and throw toys, and each other, here and yonder. The siblings and my in-laws gathered for football and glasses of wine, jumping up on occasion to rescue a child or uncle that inadvertently was injured in the all consuming pig pile. This year, the plane tickets are too much for my in-laws to come back to New Hampshire for Christmas. Each family is now on their own to create their personal Christmas.
Christmas this year will be a quite affair. We will have nice dinner on Christmas Eve and a big breakfast with present opening around the tree in Christmas morning. To be honest, I'm looking forward to it. It will be less stressful, quite, and warm.
As for presents and decorations, I've come up with a few things to maintain the overall Christmas feeling but keeping it simple.
1.) All presents received are being hidden in a closet and will not be seen until Christmas morning. There will be a lot under the tree, and even if smaller, you get the feel of the big “opening.” No gifts under the tree the night before. No “first” gift the night before as we usually had done.
2.) It is amazing the bargains on holiday decorations you can get at dollar stores. Lights are half what they are even at Walmart.
3.) Don't ask for or encourage a Christmas list.
4.) Instead of buying craft kits, go to dollar stores and craft stores and put your own kits together. I'm gathering fabric squares, ribbons, and botton bags from fabric stores to teach my daughter to sew.