Christmas is almost here again, the shops are full of decorations and Xmas aisles are at the front of every store. It’s a happy time of year – I am a self-confessed Christmas addict. Along with all the joy each year I see another side to the countdown to December 25th.
Stress. Worry. Money woes. Knowing you need more money in the next month than at any other time during the year and not knowing how or if you’ll find it. Kids writing out gift lists they hope Santa – aka cash strapped parents – will deliver to their homes. Credit cards get smashed, money gets borrowed, fights happen.
My first Christmas Day as a mother is one I will never forget. I was a single mother to a 9 month old, working part time and on a low income. Still living at home with my mother and sister, I had been preparing for the big day since my son was a month old. As a kid we were given one large gift and a few small ones. I was determined my son would have a sea of gifts. Why I can’t remember – but presents he got. Toys, cars, rattles, clothes. And the big one: a ridiculous blow up tent filled with plastic balls that took up half the lounge room that I filled with even more gifts. There was that many I couldn’t even remember what I got him.
The morning came and I leapt out of bed – he wasn’t impressed. All he did was throw a few balls around and scream for his milk. Years went on and every year he got his mountain of gifts as did his siblings as they came along year after year. Toys, books, electronics. Clothes, vouchers, games, bikes, scooters. Whatever the latest “must have” was they’d find it under that tree. Purchased, wrapped and ready months in advance.
Last Christmas it didn’t happen. I’d had a rough year and didn’t even think about presents till December. On Christmas Eve I pulled out what I had and was disappointed. This wasn’t what I was used to, there was no where near the volume of years gone by. I started freaking out. What would they say? Would they be upset? Had I built up this expectation that this year I wouldn’t deliver? What was going to happen?
What happened was nothing. The kids got up, opened their gifts and were excited, happy and grateful. There was no “Where are the rest? Why didn’t we get more?” questions. Not one.
So can I guarantee I will tone it down from here on in? No – old habits die hard. I’m more organised this year. What I can guarantee is this: your kids will be happy with what they get Christmas morning, whether it’s two presents or 20. Don’t stress, and whatever you do don’t go into debt over it.