I feel like I am failing at Christmas this year. I just can’t get into the mood. Things are extra tough with money this year but I won’t bore you all the financials. I’m just not able to do as much for my kids and family as I normally do and I am letting this get me down. We haven’t done anything Christmas-y as a family because I am so bummed out. I know Christmas isn’t about presents and is about Christ but I’m letting my money troubles put a damper on things. I need a good pep talk to get me out of my terrible mood.
Frustrated and Broke
Dear Frustrated and Broke,
Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. It’s incredibly hard when you have a giving heart but no financial means to give. Who doesn’t wish they could lavish their children and family with gifts? But remember presents are not the measure of love, time is. When you spend time with someone you let them know you value and enjoy their company. This applies to both your children and God. Spend time with both to reignite that holiday cheer.
Your kids aren’t going to remember the presents they got but they will remember the year their mom was depressed and miserable about Christmas. It may sound cliche but it doesn’t make it any less true. Moping about because you can’t buy everything on their Christmas list sends the unspoken message that happiness is only attained through material gain. I’m pretty sure that’s not what you want your kids to learn about Christmas.
Instead of ignoring the holiday because you can’t afford to celebrate it as you typically do, embrace the season. Start by celebrating Advent in quiet anticipation of Christ’s birth. You still have time left. Together, spend time in adoration; together read the Gospels about the birth of Christ, and listen to some Advent music. Slow down and spend time with your family. Curl up and watch classic Christmas movies together. Sit around the Christmas tree and read Christmas stories to your kids, or let them read one to you.
A fun favorite activity of mine is taking a weekend to drive around and look at local Christmas decorations. Baked cookies in a tin and a thermos of hot chocolate is all you need to make it a Christmas adventure!
My advice to you is to give yourself permission this year to let go of your expectations and simply enjoy the moment with your children. Bask in the quieter moments with God, who showed us the best expression of time-as-love when he consented to Incarnate and live among us. To spend time with you, too.