I won't lie. This Christmas has been tough. In November, my husband and I took a baby-free vacation to Disney World despite the fact that he hadn't had a job since July. Now before you get your judgmental financial pitchforks out - this trip was completely paid for in February. Everything but food and gas money. I even informed my employer upon hiring about the vacation. If I could have gotten a full refund, I would have.
We pay for everything ourselves. We work hard and we don't see a lot of return. It's hard to remember it's worth it when I see various relatives in the same financial situation just greedily take from their in-laws and other family members. It frustrates me to no end to see married couples living at home rent-free, not working. You're an adult - act like one.
To make a rather long rant short, we don't have much money this Christmas. Frankly, we've been living from paycheck to paycheck. I've planned well, but savings have dwindled to nothing since July.
I'm glad Donovan is young. He won't remember the tears, the stress, or the fact that a majority of his Christmas presents are coming from his grandparents and not his parents. He has everything he needs: diapers, delicious food, warm clothes, toys, and books. In fact, even if I did have lots of extra money to spend, I'm not sure what I would get for him for Christmas. The ideas I have require lots of space, and I don't have that.
I can also attest to the fact that no matter how many toys you buy, a toddler will always find things like cups, spoons, and household objects much more fascinating than the latest baby computer product from LeapFrog. Babies don't need mini-computers. They need love.
Having Christmas with a toddler is still a lot like having Christmas with a baby. I probably have more in common with child-free couples than people with older children. I can't explain the meaning of Christmas to him. I can't read him Charles Dickens. He doesn't understand the prophesy of Isaiah in relation to the chapters in Matthew and Luke. He doesn't care about traditions or the fact that Home Alone 2 is even funnier than the first one or that the Christmas tree we got is too big for our house and the LED lights are more energy-efficient than regular kind or that Santa couldn't come down the chimney in our house because we don't have one.
If being poor at Christmas has any relief, it's that a toddler just doesn't care. He's happy no matter what happens. We're not exchanging gifts this year because we want to give to others, especially Donovan, instead. Daniel and I don't need to saturate ourselves in needless materialism in order to give to each other. We give to each other daily, perhaps him a little more than me. And maybe I need to work on that.
Today is the first day of Hanukkah. I'm not Jewish and I've never celebrated the holiday, but I think they've got the right idea of celebration. They know what is important. Since Christmas is derived from Jewish festival traditions and pagan traditions, I think it's important to at least acknowledge where our holiday came from. Where they once celebrated the sun, we now celebrate the Son. And that's the Light that I want to celebrate everyday, and not just during the Festival of Lights.
"Baruch ata Adonai, Elohenu melech ha-olam."