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Waste Not-Want Not!

Whew! the holidays should be called the "Hardly Days" for some. It seems as though many can "hardly" afford food and shelter, let alone toys and gifts for their loved ones. In fact, thinking of those going through financial hardship made me think of my first Christmas as a single mother. My kids were roughly about the ages of 5 and 3 and of course they wanted every toy that flashed during a commercial. While I examined my wallet and my reality, I knew that I didn't want to disappoint them. Growing up in a poverty ridden community, my parents never made me feel the levels of being impoverished. They were always honest with me and my siblings about our financial state. My mom reinforced the importance of "NOT SPENDING IT ALL. My day, not so much. He loved Christmas and he always wanted us to have the most presents in the neighborhood. We simply could not afford that so he would buy things and wrap them individually. On Christmas morning, it would appear to be 50 gifts but in reality, there were only 10. I must admit, apart of his Christmas antics fell to me when I became a parent. The only problem was I barely had the money to buy 2 gifts versus creating an illusion of 50. My pride would not allow me to put my name on community lists for help or even ask anyone to assist. "Being a thinker, I started following online groups for single mothers. I discovered the various opportunities to "Lay Away" or as I say "lalway" at KMART and Citi Trends. Excited that my kids would have clothing, I panicked about the toys. "WHERE CAN I FIND TOYS ON A BUDGET". I noticed online where one single mom mentioned Walgreens Pharmacy as an excellent place to buy toys. She was right. They had a sale of BUY 2 GET 2 FREE. That was PERFECT for my babies. I felt the more toys they had under the tree, the more mommy looked liked the hero. Boy, was I wrong. At the time, my 3 year old daughter spent more time playing with the box than she did the actual toys. I stared in awe and anguish as I had literally sacrificed a "bill" to get these things and she is playing with the box. WOW!!

The following year, I was somewhat "back on my feet" and securing better finances. With Christmas coming again, I wanted to do something more meaningful and of course cost effective. I asked my children to give me a list of 5 things that they wanted and I would get try to get at least 2 of them. Fair enough right. My kids knew that there was NO Santa Claus at an early age. I didn't want to ruin their imagination but I also didn't want to provide a false sense of reality. Nonetheless, while reading one day, I found an article where one mom developed a system for giving gifts on Christmas. She packaged the kids gifts into 4 categories: 1- Something You Want, 2 - Something You Need, 3- Something To Wear, and 4 - Something To Read. That was music to my ears. From that moment until today (my kids are almost 15 and 13), I practice that same concept. They both get 4 big boxes, one filled with something they need (clothes, shoes, etc.), something they want (top 2 things from their wish list), something to wear (pajamas, hoodie, etc.) and an appropriate grade-level book.

While it make look to the outside that the kids are only opening 4 gifts, to me it looks as though I have provided them with a few wants and all of their needs. It is not the amount of gifts that wins the hearts of children or people in general, it is the meaning behind it and the feeling they have from receiving it.

Christmas is about the birth of Christ of course. It is also about JOY. Do not WASTE your money for one day when everything you WANT has NOThing to do with gifts but everything to do with JOY. After all, when Christmas is over, you do not want to feel as though you have done the IMPOSSIBLE for the potentially UNGRATEFUL.

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