I thought that maybe I had shaken off most of it, but I was wrong. There is nothing like the holidays to stress me the heck out. What can I say? I’m freaking out about Christmas and fighting like hard not to freak out about Christmas at the same time.

Christmas is something I had set aside money for several months ago. But when child support evaporated, so did all of my savings, even Christmas. So now, I’m trying to figure it all out. I’m making things like crazy. Well, that’s not true. I was making things like crazy and then I slowed down considerably and pretty much stopped because I got burned out. I’m trying to start things up again.

The problem with stress is it’s very distracting. You try and focus on something and it wriggles and wiggles it’s way around your brain as it moves towards the center stage of your thoughts.

This year, the kids will be spending Christmas Eve with their father. They come to my house Christmas Day around noon. We are going to have  Christmas Cookie Party that day. I think that it will be a lot of fun. And maybe it will distract the kids from a really skimpy Christmas tree.

This is where I begin to flounder, to worry, to conflict myself. My kids are blessed with a large, loving extended family who will surely shower them with gifts the way they do at every special occasion. They have a ton of stuff no matter how much I have them go through their toys and get rid of things. So there’s a battle in me– I know they don’t need or even want more stuff but I want to give to them. So I feel bad about not having any money to buy much for Christmas this year and at the same time I don’t feel bad about not participating in the relentless consumerism that so deeply affects this country. The kind of consumerism that fuels this kind of irony…

People trample each other for cheap goods mere hours after being thankful for what they already have

So I am struggling with that inner conflict at the same time I am stressing about the usual stress I have been dealing with regarding bills and life’s necessities. This means child support still hasn’t shown up in any way, shape, or form. If I understand the state attorney’s office correctly, that means his license is either suspended or about to be suspended any day now. I haven’t called them back since that last post. I probably will next week. I’m a pest but I don’t have a choice in the matter.

Their father told me he is starting a new job on the first, that they are in the negotiation stage right now. He told me the same exact thing, word for word, a few months ago. If it IS true, it would of course be that just about the time the state attorney’s office should be linking up to the unemployment office to garnish those checks, he would be starting a new job and stop collecting unemployment therefore starting the garnishment process anew all over again. It’s enough to make you laugh the maniacal laugh of loony bins.

Today, I’ll be staying home doing the laundry and working on crocheted gifts. We already watched Elf but it made me cry so I don’t think I’ll be putting on any more Christmas movies today. Today, the kids are going to make their Christmas lists but I am going to do something different. I am going to give them a paper with four sections: Something I want, Something I need, Something to wear, and Something to read. I’ll let them fill each section out with a couple of things in each category and use that as my guiding light this Christmas. I think it’s better this way than a free for all.

I hope you enjoy your weekend. I’m trying to do just that.


13 thoughts on “$tre$$

  1. The biggest gift you can give your children is have them volunteer work a few days before Christmas at the children’s hospital in your city, a food bank or a shelter. It will be their best Christmas and they will learn the obvious lessons.

  2. My children rarely remembered who gave them what at Christmas. I think it is natural to believe you should give them lots of things. It is sad, but I went through the same thing. My children understood and were grateful, knowing their father could give them more. They just wanted something, not something big or lots of things from me. Even 30+ years later, my lack still bothers me. My children still accept that I cannot give as much as everyone else.

  3. I grew up in a house hold where my parents both got paid once a month, near the beginning of the month, and by the end of the month all we had in the kitchen was ramen and beans and canned corn. There was food scarcity. There was constant stress about money and bills. And a big part of the stress was because every Christmas my parents would rack up a lot of credit card debt to buy us everything for Christmas. So we had these big lush Christmases with lots of gifts, and then the rest of the year massive stress about paying off the bills, paying the mortgage, paying for groceries, etc.

    It’s not going to HARM your kids to have a low-gift Christmas. In fact, it’ll be better for them in the long run then going into debt and having to worry about that. You’re doing fine by your kids. Don’t let society pressure you into making harmful financial decisions.

    • Brigid Keeley is 100% correct. My parents never got us anything for Christmas. Santa did. When were old enough to understand where things came from, there were still little ones, so we went along with it. My children got nothing from us. That was just the way it was. No one suffered.

  4. *hug*

    We don’t get Christmas presents for our kids because they get too much stuff from their extended family. We just put candy in the stockings. And it isn’t because of money for us. I think your kids will be fine, and the cookie party will bring lots of great memories. Give yourself a break on the Christmas stress.

    I 100% agree with Brigid Keely. I don’t know a single kid who wouldn’t trade the most expensive gift under the tree for less stressed-out parents.

  5. I’m pretty much in the same boat as NicoleandMaggie, we don’t give lots of gifts (or expensive gifts) because in my observation at least for our fairly young kid (kindergartener) the quantity and excitement is overwhelming, anyway, and this is in the context of (extended) family that’s not crazy in the gift-giving department. So please know, you have company, whatever our motives (I do of course realize that earlier patterns, and cross-parent comparisons, may play a role for you that they don’t for us and don’t mean to minimize those things. But it is not the case that “everyone” is giving vast numbers of gifts to their children at Christmas time.)

  6. I’m late on posting…..but oh how i feel for you. Last year I cried on Christmas Eve after I set out presents because of how little we had. The same feelings are starting to well up now especially with all the chaos that’s just occurred, but we just have to have faith it will all work out…right? It isn’t the quantity, but the thought behind the gifts that count.

  7. We’ve had good years for Christmas and bad years for Christmas…but the one thing I’ve found to be constant is that my kids crave Christmas itself more than the gifts. They want warmth and cookies and a big meal. They want the family time and the laughs. I swear the wrapping paper and bows, along with the anticipation is more important to them than what’s inside. They love driving through a nearby city’s Christmas light display in the park. They love the hot cocoa while watching The Polar Express on Christmas Eve, (yes…even the older ones).

    • YES! I am trying to enforce that more this year as well. My city hall puts up a small Christmas park every year. I took my kids the other night and they were over the moon. It’s the spirit of Christmas they go Ga-Ga over!

  8. Be at peace, and think of the wonderous event that we celebrate because of it, Love is what it is all about enjloy and relax, for your family is really the real gift that was given to you, for you are truly blessed,. Blessings on you and your family, may you truly enloy the Christmas season. Love and Joy.


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