The Christmas season is trying to be festive and thoughts of the upcoming holidays are filling our heads, or at least our eyes and ears. But it is especially difficult with escalating financial responsibilities, disappearing work hours and eliminated jobs. How can we make it all balance?
Each year the Christmas time of year is intensely emotionally charged with the desire to be like all other families and parents and provide a happy Christmas for our children. Christmas parental guilt is a common emotion. It is created by feeling that we have not been there as much for our children as we should have been or wanted to be during the hectic year. We feel guilty by being unable to give our children, that we love, the latest gifts that they ask us for.
I should know, I’ve lived through these issues as a parent myself. When my financial life crumbled for me it was right at Christmas and the pain and guilt was immense. Facing bankruptcy and the loving eyes of a three year old daughter where almost too painful to deal with, but I did and I learned some really important lessons along the way.
Spending too much during the holiday season can be so easy to do but there are inexpensive steps and action we can take to help us through.
Before you spend money on gifts, please ask yourself what you are trying to achieve with the gift. Is this a down payment on guilt elimination or maybe a ‘please forgive me’ present? If so, stop and think about the following before you spend.
The biggest tragedy would be for us parents to not give the present that is the most valuable and precious, that of our honesty, our truth and our love. Christmas can still be a precious time of year if instead of investing in debt that will cripple you in the New Year, you invest in time and attention and emotional investment you’re your children need.
There are many precious gifts, remarkable gifts and ways to celebrate the holiday season with your children that allow you to have a memorable Christmas without breaking the bank.
The first gift you can give your children is that of honesty. It is okay to be honest with your children about your true financial situation. You should sit them down and share with them the underlying issues that are concerning you and why you are unable to give them that expensive gift this holiday season. But when you share, don’t give them just fear, also share with them how you plan to deal with any financial shortfall you might have and let them know how it is going as you work your way through the problems. It is okay to let them know how they can help participate also so they can feel like part of the solution as well.
The second inexpensive but valuable gift you can give is that of compassion. While you and your family may feel as if you are suffering and times are terrible, they are sadly in fact worse for others. You can volunteer your time as a family at a homeless shelter or help serve meals to those less fortunate during this time of the year. Doing something for someone else is extremely valuable for you and your family.
The third gift you can share is gratitude and thankfulness. Help to show your children that they can be grateful and appreciative of what they might have rather than regretful for what they feel they have not.
A Christmas without the much advertised gift of the season may be disappointing at the moment for your child but looking back on that moment it can be a special opportunity to instead fill this Christmas with holiday cheer, the aroma of fresh baking, helping others, honesty, and gratitude. The gift of a warm and embracing family is the greatest gift you can give and it is without charge.