I love this time of year. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays because it combines my love of shopping with my love of gift giving, sweets eating, Christmas carol singing and peppermint mocha coffee drinking.
But it is also this time of year that I feel the confines of our family budget the most. I wish that I could do something nice for everyone this time of year. It just can’t happen. I knew this when my husband and I sat down and made up a budget that would allow us to live on a single income. And now this strict-budget living is second nature and I rarely even notice my financial limitations. But there have been a lot of moments these last few months where I’ve felt confined by and resentful of the tight fistedness that has kept our heads above water. I wanted to be able to buy my husband something nice for his birthday and still be able to go out together for a nice dinner. I wanted to send flowers to my daughter’s teacher when we heard she was in the hospital. I wanted to get my daughter that $200 Barbie Jeep at Target and the Buzz Lightyear race car for my son for Christmas. I wish I could rent out some fancy, fun place for my kids’ birthday party next week and hand out fun favors to all the kids. But none of these things were financially feasible for us.
Instead, I gave my husband something thoughtful for his birthday and made a special dinner for him. We sent a card to my daughter’s teacher with a heartfelt note. And although I spent less for Christmas on my kids (and niece), combined, than the cost of one Barbie Jeep, they will have plenty of gifts to open on Christmas morning. The kids’ party will be at home, but filled with friends and family and, I hope, a lot of fun. This is the season of giving. But it is also the season of joy and goodwill, hope and light and love. And I always remind myself that even though I may not be giving people the things I wish I could afford, I am still giving them something, even if it is just my love and friendship. These are great gifts to get; I know, because the love and friendship I receive from others are the gifts I treasure the most.