Thursday, October 30, 2008

Christmas- another reason I am not totally frugal

I know, it's still technically October, why the heck am I talking about Christmas!

Well, because I just read something that disturbed me. I read about a family who, in the name of frugality is planning to do a "gently used" Christmas theme this year.

Ok. When I was a kid we were dirt poor. Shit, most months we couldn't even afford dirt. We lived on the amount of cash most people spend on starbucks in a month. A lot of my frugality has come from this upbringing. And I think I learned some wonderful lessons only poverty can teach a person.

As a kid there were a lot of things I simply could not have because there was no feasible way to buy them and still keep food on the table. But the one thing I could look forward to every single year was Christmas. I started fantasizing about Christmas around about July every year, and when the Sears Wishbook would come out my sister and I would spend hours carefully marking our initials next to every wonderful toy we hoped we would get.

The one thing my mother always made sure of was that although she couldn't buy us designer jeans for our first day of school or take us to Disney land in the summer she always did everything in her power to make sure that when we woke on Christmas morning there were a plethora of carefully wrapped gifts under the tree, lik a picture straight out of a magazine. Hours were spent carefully opening each gift and finding toys that we had been wishing for all year. We would wait patiently while my mom carefully removed barbie accesories from the packages. One for me, one for my sister. We called our friends and cousins and exchanged excited lists of what "santa" had brought us.

There is something to be said about getting things that were carefully purchased for you. I can't imagine the same thrill coming from a gift that was bought simply because it was a good deal at a garage sale, something someone had their fill of and tossed in the quarter bin.

I myself find a great sense of enjoyment in carefully listening to my kids' subtle hints and making my shopping lists. My husband and I have a wonderful time in the stores purchasing the perfect gifts for each child. Watching them open their own brand new toys they have waited for on Christmas morning brings us such immense joy it's indescribable.

I do think this country is far too commercialized. Products are overpriced and over advertised. I think making statements in your actions by being frugal are important. And I definitely think that children need to learn the value of a dollar. But there is something to be said for watching a child open that gift they wished for all year long but never dared to hope they'd get.

I choose to protect the magic of Christmas that only comes once a year. Let kids be kids and enjoy that one day, without worry. Knowing they meant enough to sacrifice your hard earned money on. Looking back I don't know how my mom did it, but the fact that she did, the sacrifice she must have faced to give us that special day....... brings tears to my eyes.


PBandJ said...

I am definitely not frugal at Christmas. We were a very poor family as well, and lots of times our gifts were donated by social services or a shelter. My mom did try to get us a couple things we really wanted, though. It is hard to be poor and tough to be frugal, but you shouldn't skimp on Christmas. Of course, no reason to break the bank, either, just make it nice and make it happy.

Thelma said...

I guess, I view this from a different angle. Were it not for some friends that have nominated my family for a Christmas gift program, we would be unable to afford Christmas this year or have to go the gently used toy route. One can just as lovingly and carefully choose those gifts as they can the normal gifts. Our son, has asthma and has been very ill this fall. He has had horrid asthma attacks and pnuemonia. The high cost of medical care even with insurance has drained us. This week alone, we payed rent and are scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to groceries, waiting for payday on Friday. I am a sahm. Oh I could go back to work and have more income but MOST of it would go to daycare. So we choose to take what little we can give and make it happy. We will have to skimp on Christmas this year, our children will be none the worse for wear because we have taught them over time, Christmas is not about the gift you get under the tree but about the gift you were given through Christ. I too grew up poor and do you know my favorite Christmas? The year all I got was a brush, a mirror and a small doll. Why? because my mother made Christmas fun despite the lack of presents. She made it an adventure. We too will take what little we have and make it an adventure. We will celebrate the love of our family despite not having a big Christmas. You can make Christmas happy with very little. Its about the love, not the present. Am I sad about the fact we can't afford Christmas, yes. But I am thrilled that my son is breathing and better for now. His medical bills alone threaten to send us under. There are many reasons a person has to choose a frugal Christmas. But if you can take that frugal Christmas and turn it into far outweighs what is missing. My children DO want specific things.......a nintendo ds, a doll that is 60 bucks, a bike etc. BUT they will get some things just NOT those expensive things. They will get something on their wish list. It will not be the most expensive and we will have sought long and hard to find what we can afford. and because of the genorosity of others they will have Christmas. I guess my heart breaks that others dont know that those of us who have to give a frugal Christmas don't do so lightly or easily. It is with a heavy heart. But all being children will have love and security, a roof over their heads, food on the table and faith that can move moutntains. I am not saying that is what you meant in your thread......just lending a view from the other side......the side that has no choice but to give that frugal Christmas. I dream of the day.......I can give my kids the Christmas of their dreams. That day will come, but for now.......we will make what they do get, gifts of love and joy and never tell them the sacrifice it took. Dh and I will go without presents, and other things for ourselves in order for our kids to have something besides the donated gifts........they will get at least one special present from Mommy and Daddy. God is faithful and He will bless us and He will make our Christmas filled with the magic of His love.