It’s not an easy time for many of you—job loss, mortgage issues, tight budgets and fear of the next shoe falling. Don’t despair. There is an upside and a way to enjoy your holiday in spite of difficult times
This is definitely a time to erase the past holiday experiences and make a new one. Wipe the slate clean and do something different.
- Define what holiday means to you (and your family)
Our holidays have become a media frenzy experience instead of our own. What doyou really want from the holiday–sharing, laughing, reflecting, remembering, reawakening spirit? Once you define what you want the experience to be, you can create it without a lot of money and stress.
As I think about a time in my life when I was a single parent and broke, my daughter and I made lots of gifts and had time together to laugh and create. I didn’t feel bad because I didn’t have money to spend. I actually liked the time with my daughter that was removed from my busy life. Shopping doesn’t bring you closer.
This year I received the best present from my daughter—it was a poem on what I meant to her. I treasure it to this day. It is far better than any store bought gift.
- Keep it simple
During times of great stress, it is easier to plan your holiday buying and decorating to a minimum. Think small. Remember to go back to that holiday definition and make the experiences come from within instead of objects. House decorating can be a family affair with all members coming up with one object or idea that can be put together by the family.
With small children who have high gift expectations, communicate that this year might be different. Explain why. Remember you are doing a great justice by keeping your kids in the loop of family issues. (It will prepare them for their future.) If there are financial difficulties, it is important to handle the message with honesty and compassion but not alarming them. A three year old doesn’t need lots of details but some explanation on why gift-giving will be different this year. It doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. And that really is up to you in how you communicate. For example,
“Santa is only bringing one gift this year—there are so many children and only so many to go around.” You can determine what suits your communication style.
For older children who want lots of expensive techie toys or games, you could consider contributing to an item and then asking other family members to pitch in.
General gift ideas include doing something for someone—a back rub for a partner, a special meal for a parent, a unique sleepover party for your children’s friends, etc.
Check out A Mindful Christmas—How to Create a Meaningful, Peaceful Holiday by Barbara Kilikevich or Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case for a More Joyful Christmas, by Bill McKibben.
More tips in Part 2 next week.