Growing up we didn’t have much money. My mom was fairly open with me about it, and while I didn’t understand her day-to-day struggles, I did know why we ate at home every night. I also know that if I had asked her to go out to dinner she would have said yes, but the guilt of knowing how far one meal could set my mom back in her monthly bills always had me asking for home cooked meals instead. But for some reason every Christmas, no matter how small an item I asked for, my sister and I would receive mountains of presents.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for everything I received, but I also felt a little guilty for all of those presents. I never understood how she could afford it, and I never had the heart to ask.
As my sister and I grew older the quantity of presents decreased, but my gratitude increased because it was never about how many presents I got for Christmas. Plus there was the added benefit that I was feeling less guilty about my mom stretching herself too thin. Until one year, I was about 16 or 17, and my mom said it was going to be a small Christmas. I instantly wanted nothing from her; I truly wouldn’t have minded just a day with the family. But my sister and I both received one present each. I think that day we both saw the disappointment on my mom’s face when she had so little for us, but we told her we were happy with what we had and we truly didn’t need anything else. Because Christmas isn’t about giving the most amount of gifts, the best gift, or the most expensive gift. I mean, it shouldn’t even be about gifts at all (not that I don’t appreciate gifts). Christmas is about showing people how much you love and care about them, spending time with them, and appreciating them. And yes, that can involve giving a gift but it shouldn’t revolve around it.
So if you’re a struggling parent, I would encourage you not to worry this Christmas. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Kids don’t need the latest iPhone or the newest video game. What they do need is your love and attention to shape them into caring people. Go play in the snow with your kids this Christmas, it’s much better than them staring at a screen and you may find yourself having a good time as well.
Would you rather receive the perfect gift or have the perfect day with your family this Christmas?
A quick thank you to my dad, Tom Crews, for letting me use his stunning photos all over my blog.