Friday, December 16, 2011

Cutting Back

What is hard for me:

Cutting back on Christmas.

Why, do you ask? Because I love giving gifts. Love, love, love it. I love it ten times more than receiving gifts; I love to give thoughtful, personal, some-what inspirational gifts to people. I love to know I've given some semblance of happiness. Kind of like Leslie on Parks and Recreation , except I don't make it a competition (if you don't watch Parks and Rec, then you wouldn't know what I'm talking about).

But we have no choice but to cut back (drastically) this year. I've heard people tell me, "Well, that's okay! Do a homemade Christmas!" After I pick myself off of the floor where I was rolling with laughter, I have to remind people that A. I don't have sewing OR artistic skills and B. I don't have sewing or artistic skills. At all. Baking? Besides a nice cookie or loaf of banana bread, I don't have those either. When people claim they love their "homemade" Christmases, I have to remind myself that they can actually MAKE something.

What does this mean? A lot of people have been knocked off the gift-giving list. Completely. It also means the gifts are inexpensive or just plain cheap. It means a lot of forethought on my part to make sure that what I DO give isn't some insanely depressing lip-service and is truly given with love.

Yes, it does mean "less stress" if "less stress" means just buying fewer things. But it also means "more stress" because I'm mentally trying to figure out how to make it all work under a very tight budget. Frankly, I'd rather be buying 200 Christmas cards and sending them out, passing out treats and gifts to all the neighbors, and buying things my kids actually want instead of disappointing substitutes.

Yes, I also know this means many of you have a lecture on the tip of your tongue, telling me how "Christmas isn't about things!" and "Your kids obviously need to learn to do without stuff!" and "The best Christmases we had were the ones with no presents at all!" etc. etc. etc. My knee-jerk response:


My kids are used to going without ALL THE TIME, thank you very much. We don't heap presents upon our kids just because. In fact, we rarely buy them anything unless the shoes start falling apart and their backpacks start to break. Christmas is one of those times where I feel comfortable giving them the things we would never buy for them --even for birthdays. Christmas is a time where I can exploit my gift-giving joys without the guilt. I know my kids and friends and family members and neighbors will be just fine without getting much (or anything) from us this year. I know it. I'm just sad I can't really do it this year.

And I'm perfectly fine with having to eat my words and find out that this will be the "best Christmas, ever!" because our focus will be shifted to just being together, rather than opening loads of gifts (and we ALWAYS focus on Christ at Christmas --that part will never change). Trust me. I am. Perfectly fine with eating my words, that is. Humble pie is one of my most frequent dishes...

What are some great homemade gifts you've given that didn't cost much and didn't take much talent? What are some ways you've been able to give to others without spending money?


Suki said...

I had to do the same thing this year. The stress is immense normally, but I am so relaxed this year. I already told my friends and family we are not sending out family letters or making cookies, and even our kids are getting a huge cutback.

I'm pretty lucky to be creative, though. Santa is bringing inexpensive dolls, but I'm making teddy bears and monsters out of fleecy fabric for my kids and my nephews. The rest of the gifts are clothes, which are needed. I have to say that I feel so much better giving something meaningful (instead of junking up their room with "awesome" toys). Our best times are being with our family, decorating the tree and doing holiday crafts. :)

I hope you and your family have (stress free) Merry Christmas.

Julie P said...

I love giving experiences. So: a ticket for one kid might be a date including their favorite things (fishing, the $1 movie, etc.). They can be inexpensive to free, focus on quality time, and the kids LOVE them.

Amanda D said...

For neighbors, I'm going to suggest PW's cinnamon rolls. Go to the dollar store and buy some disposable round cake pans and slice the rolls thin. You'll be able to fill 9 pans and they taste divine. Bonus: they are SUPER easy.

We don't spend much on Christmas either, and we don't do much in the way of gifts outside of family.

I don't know about you but I think that I tend to worry to much about if my kids will be happy Christmas morning. I don't think my kids have ever disappointed on Christmas morning, even when I haven't been able to do much.


Cheryl said...

That was our Christmas last year and you know what?? It worked out great because the couple of gifts my kids got were things they really enjoyed and this year they do not remember at all that they only got 2 gifts last year. I sent out ecards to friends and family and didn't take any treats to neighbors etc.. I thought it would be awkward when people brought us something and I didn't take anything to them, but it wasn't and I am certain they don't remember we didn't give them something in return. The one thing I hated most about it is that Dave and I didn't get zilch. I didn't mind for myself, but I love to buy for him, I love to find fun little thoughtful things that I know he'll love and I didn't get to do that. This year is a bit better, but we are only doing one gift for each other....

It's okay for it to be hard, it just is no matter how you focus on others, the Savior etc. We want to see our kids faces light up on Christmas morning and it's hard when we think it won't!