Christmas has become a consumer holiday. The advertisements tell us to buy their products to have that memorable experience. Messages bombarded us saying the more we buy and give, the Merrier our Christmas. The amount spent determines the amount of love we have and receive. Therefore, we feel obligated to give and to spend a lot of money on the gifts.
What happens if we don’t have much to spend or none at all due to a job loss or the loss of an income due to a death? We tend to feel inadequate and insecure. We become anxious, irritable and isolated. We feel like a failure. People may call you a Grinch or a Scrooge due to your lack of holiday cheer. It is all so overwhelming.
What happens when family get together’s require spending money you don’t have to spare? How do you pay your share when they want to go out to a restaurant, order pizza, go to a movie, concert, or play? And better yet, how do say no to the invitations without shame? How do you explain that you just don’t have the extra to spend?
You must be proactive.
Talk with family members prior to the holiday get together’s. Let them know that this year you do not have a lot to spend and would like to find alternatives that will promote family togetherness without spending money.
Define what is realistic for you.
Instead of going out, offer to cook or have a pot luck. Watch Netflix or DVD’s of your family’s favorite movie. Read a book aloud. Try some holiday classics such as A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, The Nutcracker by E. T. A. Hoffman and The night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. Pick them up at the library.
Or maybe you can afford one extra event. Talk about it with your family members and choose one that the whole group agrees on. Then if the family wants to do extra events on their own they are free to do so while you have fun choosing free events and spending time with other people.
Banish financial shame.
You are not alone in your money struggle. Everyone has been there. You are not a failure. Most of the shame we feel is self induced. It is hard to live up to your self image and the image of what you think others have of you. Money is not the measure of who you are as a person and whether or not you are successful.
Also, don’t let others bully you about your financial situation. You are not a second class citizen because you do not have a lot of money. If you find yourself being bullied, take the offender aside and have a calm, heartfelt conversation about the issue and how they are making you feel. Let them know that this is a temporary situation. Explain that it has been difficult for you and how their words have made you feel. Tell them you would appreciate their understanding so that everyone can have a great time together.
Manage your expectations and do not compare.
Don’t expect the worst this holiday season. Remember the true meaning of the season. Connect with your beliefs. Generosity and giving comes in many forms, not just giving material things.
So instead of feeling guilty when someone gives you a gift and you cannot reciprocate, learn to say thank you and receive the gift. Money and gifts are not the reason for the season.
You are not alone. I am here to walk along side you.
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