How to Cope with Financial Strain through the Holidays as a Parent
by Angie Schflett
In the past several decades, finances have had a direct impact on the overall enjoyment that a family experiences through the holidays; however, this is not what the holidays are about. Christmas has developed into a season of rampant levels of consumerism. Christmas cards, the Christmas tree, the decorations, the lights, and the presents – all of these products carry an immense amount of expenses for families. During a time when employment rates are at an all-time low and all merchandise is dramatically increasing in price, many families will find that they experience complications this holiday season. In this brief guide, you will be provided with information on how to cope with financial strain through the holidays, as a parent.
Remember the True Meaning of Christmas
Many will state that Christmas has different meanings to different people. Is it about the gifts that are under the tree? Is it the decorations? Is it the ham or turkey dinner? Is it the snow lining the streets? Is it the carolers? As a parent, you should know and understand that none of this is truly the real meaning of Christmas. This holiday is one where we celebrate the birth of God’s son, Jesus Christ. This birth resulted in great joy all around the world. Jesus is one of truth, of love, and of hope. He brought each of us salvation. As a result of his birth, we are not all destined to die in sin. Jesus Christ is the real “reason for the season”, not gifts or spending loads of money. As parents, we must teach our child this.
Giving is Better than Receiving
In order to cope with finances that are less than favorable during the holidays, it is important that you and your family focus more on giving than receiving. During the holidays, it is best to give of ourselves than to give expensive gifts. You and your children should place a special emphasis on helping those in need, volunteering, and helping those that are unable to do for themselves. It is then that we truly understand God’s gift to us – Jesus Christ. God gave his only son to the world so that we would not perish in our sins, but, have everlasting life if we believe in him and the fact that he died on the cross for our sins. When you look at the holidays in this way, suddenly, it becomes less important to spend money on gifts and more important to give of ourselves.
Talk to Your Kids
Once you have explained the real meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate it and have encouraged your child to give of themselves as God gave to us, you should talk to your kids about your finances. Explain that, as a parent, you want to give them everything that they want; however, you must first tend to their basic needs. Be honest about the economy and the detrimental impact that it has on your family. It is likely that your child will have questions. They may even start to experience a bit of fear. You should reassure the child that they are protected, they have a secure home, and that there will always be food to eat; however, it is also imperative that you explain that there simply are not enough funds available to indulge in excess. You should never hide the truth of your situation from your child. Yet, it is also important to ensure that when you discuss these things with your child that you do not instill fear in them.
There is a quote that goes along the lines of it is better to collect memories than to collect things. When explaining finances this holiday season, you should express this to your child and offer suggestions on how you may spend the holidays, as a family. Perhaps, you could give each other something that is important – such as a free week from not doing dishes, a week of vacuuming, or, a week of walking a sibling home from the bus stop. You could encourage your child to take their old, unwanted belongings, clean them up, and give them to others. For example, if your child has a lot of stuffed animals that they no longer play with, they could clean them up, make clothes for them, and give them to a younger, needy child that they know. If there is an older, disabled person in the neighborhood, perhaps, you and your family could clean their home and take care of their lawn for a month, or, once a month – all year long!
In addition to these little acts of kindness, there are other ways that you and your kids may enjoy the holidays without spending a lot of money. Perhaps, you could schedule a neighborhood party where everyone gathers to build snowmen and eat Christmas cookies. Maybe you could take the time to do your spring cleaning early and donate all of your unwanted items to charity. You could also choose to take a small trip together so that you are able to spend time away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday lives. There are many alternatives to spending large amounts of money during the holidays.
The holidays are heavily commercialized. Each year, people are spending more and more money on gifts and investing less time and effort on those around them. If your finances are tight this holiday season, do not fret. The season is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and his impact on the world. It is about giving of ourselves and not fancy gifts. It is a time of love, community, and service. By keeping this fresh in our minds, it will be easy to cope with less-than-favorable finances during the holidays. The main thing is to ensure that your child knows the meaning of Christmas. If they know this, tight finances during the holidays will prove to be irrelevant.
Angie Shiflett is a professional writer that focuses on writing on an assortment of topics. Currently, her passion is homeschooling. She has been homeschooling her children through The Connections Academy for two years now. Both her and her husband are able to remain at home with their children in order to educate them. They place a high emphasis on family, and dedication to the importance of a proper education.
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