By: Amy Gentry
The past year has included two job layoffs, unemployment, unforeseeable expenses and zero lottery jackpots. We’re fighting furiously to pay bills in some sort of timely basis. It takes some clever money management (mortgage gets paid today, wait for reimbursement check in two days and pay daycare, hold off as long as possible to pay car payment etc). This is all to say that the piggy holding all of our disposable income for holiday gifts has an empty belly.
We certainly never expected to be parents who struggled to afford the “little extras” in life. We never wanted the holiday season to arrive with ulcers and lack of sleep due to stress about how to provide gifts for our family. But, really, I also never thought I’d be a mother so wrapped up in the giving of “things” as a way to give, I don’t know–Love?…Respect?…Happy memories?–to my kids.
I am making the decision to set aside the expectations I’ve made for myself, my family, the perfect holiday home. I’m pretty sure that by doing this, the perfection of the season itself and the wonder of my life and family will naturally reveal itself.
Living in Seattle, we have plenty of great events that we can attend over the next few weeks FOR FREE. Let’s start there. We did go down to the very chilly beach a few nights ago in the dark to stand around bon fires and wait for the Christmas boats to sail by.
I’m planning a holiday parade in our neighborhood for all the kids/neighbors to decorate bikes or wagons and trek through the streets, blasting holiday music and brandishing flashlights. I’m thinking this will be a holiday highlight.
We went Christmas tree shopping last night and, rather than buying the 7-ft. tall, perfectly coifed tree, we settled on a not-even-5-feet little tree for half the cost. Its tiny size afforded it an ironic name given by the 11 year old – “Big G,” the small tree. It holds one strand of lights, is overflowing with beads and garland and has only the very special ornaments on it (plus one new Rubber Chicken Santa ornament my husband brought home). Hardly magnificent, but somehow perfect. Perfect in its simplicity and beautiful with its lights, and beads added by a three year old zig-zagging through the branches, and holding up the handful of ornaments we deemed special this year.
And here we are again. A year has gone by and we are going to enjoy another holiday season as a family. Not the most expensive gifts under the tree. No giant Christmas tree touching the living room ceiling. But lots of great walks through the neighborhood to look at twinkling lights. Plenty of laughing and singing around “Big G.” And the realization that these are probably the years my kids are really getting the best gifts.
Amy Gentry is a very average human, woman, wife and mother, starting a journey to a healthier life, while trying to figure out what she wants to be if she ever grows up. You can follow more of her adventures on Average Joe Mama.