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Can You Afford The Holidays?

By Karen Taylor

A lot of families are financially hurting right now, and that means more stress for stay-at-home moms who may wonder if they should get a job.   To add to the pressure, most young parents grew up during a time when adults went into debt to make sure every child’s wish was fulfilled.   Your expectation may be that you need to do the same.  Just remember that when you were growing up, a lot of moms worked in order to help pay for it all, which may be why some of you went to preschool!

Your unpreschooled children are young and don’t have holiday expectations, so they will be happy with whatever holiday customs you establish.    This may be a good time to look back at the way pioneers celebrated the holidays.  It was a time before TV and radios bombarded families with ideas for their wish lists.  It was before magazines depicted the “perfect” holiday, complete with every imaginable electronic gadget under the tree.  And it was before credit card companies offered incentives for those who use their credit cards the most.

If you want to, you can jump off the financial merry-go-round, and have a holiday that you can truly afford! The easiest way is to not ask for a wish list, but surprise your loved ones with a gift of your choosing.  Perhaps everyone will get a thoughtful handmade gift that says “I’m thinking of you and love you”.  It doesn’t get better than that!  Or maybe everyone will get new-to-them gifts that came from a thrift store or garage sale.   Google “thrifty gifts” or “homemade gifts” and you’ll find lots of ideas.

My personal policy is to avoid anything advertised to children on TV.   Those hot gifts of the season aren’t the best toys but they sure are the highest priced because their manufacturer creates the demand.

The creative well-loved classic toys like blocks, books, puzzles, games, and dress up clothes, are affordable especially if you plan all year and aren’t worried about it coming in a brand new box that will be thrown out.  If it means you can still afford to stay home with your children, it makes those toys priceless!

My kids were raised with more simple gifts than their peers, and they loved this time of year as much as any other kid.  One of my children was born on Christmas Day, and over the years, many adults have expressed sympathy for having this birth date, since it might mean less loot.  But in our family, there was no excess loot, but lots of attention, so he was very happy with his birthday.  When he was young, his answer was that he liked being born on Christmas because Daddy never had to work on his birthday.  I always loved his from-the-heart response!

I hope you have a stress-free holiday, and consider that the best gift of all is one you give year-round to your young children.  It’s the gift of your love and your time, and they’ll never forget it.

Karen Taylor provides regular homeschooling information and mentoring on Facebook, and she is the Directory of Cedar Life Academy, a Private School Satellite Program (PSP) for homeschoolers in California.

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