Christmas has become a holiday more identified by stress than enjoyment. This is mostly because of the expense of buying gifts. Prices have become so inflated that the average family can’t afford much. The high cost of living doesn’t allow much to purchase gifts with.
Many families have stopped exchanging gifts and opted for a dinner spent with each other instead. Others have begun drawing names. These are only a couple different ways that families have tried to reunite themselves with the Christmas Spirit.
Several years ago, my family and I were in dire straights financially. My husband and I had both lost our jobs and had a seven year old and a fourteen year old to provide for. Without public assistance and food stamps, we would never have made it. To make matters worse, we were the victims of vandalism. Our car had the gas tank sugared and was then set on fire. Of course, in our situation, at the time, we had no insurance. We had to adapt to having no vehicle.
Had we lived in the city, being without a car would have been easier. However, living in the country made the ordeal even worse. Since we weren’t within walking distance to anything, we were constantly having to bum a ride or borrow a car. All I can say is “Thank God for friends and relatives.”
With Christmas quickly approaching, I found myself becoming more stressed, which of course increased my depression.
We signed our kids up for all the gift assistance we could. This included toys from our neighborhood center and we also signed up to receive gifts from local churches.
To this day, I can remember thinking how horrible Christmas was going to be. I felt like such a failure as a parent. For the first time ever, we had nothing; no money at all. Our water bill, light bill, and monthly rent were even paid by assistance programs in the community. Not having a vehicle just made everything that much more difficult to accomplish. Somehow we managed to always get a ride or borrow a friend’s car.
Being a family who had never attended church much, we found ourselves at several churches that year. Since we couldn’t buy our children anything, we thought the least we could do was take them to see the Christmas plays at the local churches. This was our way of spending quality time together, free of charge.
I remember having to get in line at four in the morning just to pick up the toys for our children from the neighborhood center. It took hours to get through it. After getting the gifts home, I cried. My kids hadn’t gotten anything real nice and nothing they had asked for. My little girl had been given an Easter Bunny for a Christmas gift. As the parents, we were to wrap the gifts as though they were from us. I was so ashamed.
We celebrated Christmas and then it was finally over.
Just a couple years ago, we had a very blessed Christmas. We spent a lot of money and were even financially able to choose two names from the Wish Tree to buy gifts for. It was financially, the best Christmas we had ever had.
On Christmas, we were all discussing how Christmas just didn’t seem like Christmas this year. My daughter, who is now 12 said she remembered her favorite Christmas ever. She said it was the year she got the sparkly bunny rabbit. I was shocked. She had enjoyed the one Christmas that I had spent years trying to forget. My son agreed.
It was then that I finally realized that Christmas truly isn’t about the money. Both my children enjoyed the one year when we had the least.
By spending less money, we had focused more on the true meaning of the holiday. We had spent real quality time together. It was a Christmas when all we really had was each other and as shocking as it may sound, especially this day and time, each other was enough.
So, for those of you who want to truly get back to the basics and genuinely enjoy Christmas again, stop focusing on the gifts. Don’t just say it, do it. Try making a rule this year that no one is allowed to spend any money on any gift. Whether you give a gift that is homemade or something someone gives you, it can’t cost anything. At the same time focus on activities throughout the holiday that will cheer each other up. Do something together that will make up for the free gift you’ll be giving.
You just may find that Christmas is much more enjoyable.