Tis the season to be jolly, but for many the holidays are a time of frenzy and stress.
The good news of the bad economy is that it has brought us face to face with our rampant appetite for excess. We discovered that we had accumulated much more than we could ever need.
Ah, but now the holidays are here and budgeting isn’t so much fun. Jolly tunes are playing and we are assaulted with buying messages everywhere we turn. Our children’s eyes have grown wide with desire and our hearts long to fulfill their wish list. Not to mention the wonderful deals that will allow us to have that shiny new toy of our own at half the price.
Gift giving is a wonderful tradition but when the giving leaves you filled with everything but joy it’s time to reevaluate.
A great way to take back this wonderful time of year is to celebrate the true spirit of the season. Talk to your family and extended family about the traditions you have established. Suggest creating new traditions such as:
- Rather than spending money on each other, pool your funds to help a local needy family. You do not have to look far to find a family that would be blessed by bags of groceries, winter coats for their children, or even toys to put under the tree. Make it special by shopping for the family together and then surprising them with your gifts. Your own children will experience the joy of helping others in need, guaranteed to last longer than the temporary high of shiny new gadget.
- Support a favorite charity. As we have cut back our own budgets, many charities are struggling with shrinking donations. What may seem a small amount to us can make a huge difference to a charity.
- Create a lasting family member. Take an extended family portrait, gather your family stories and make a book, visit a place that is significant to your family.
- Ditch the gifts and keep the togetherness. Isn’t that what this time of year is truly about? You can enjoy the warm traditions of faith and family without the stress and added pressures.
- Volunteer together. Your service does not have to be limited to the traditional acts of charity. Surprise an elderly neighbor by cleaning up his/her yard. Clean up a vacant lot in an area that can use a morale boost. Be creative and find something meaningful for the whole family.
My warmest remembrances of Hanukkahs and Christmases past have nothing to do with gifts. I bet that is true for most of us. We remember the stories, the laughter, the people who are part of our loving (or humorous) holiday moments. That is the best tradition of all that we can pass on to the next generation.
How about you? Any creative suggestions to celebrate the holidays that alleviate the financial pressures?