With the economy in the state it’s in, more people than ever are having to pinch pennies and really cut down on discretionary spending. Among other things, this means less money available for gift giving.
But indirectly this can be a good thing. Sometimes necessity forces us to inadvertently learn important lessons in life.
One’s first reaction to not being able to spend as much as one would like for, say, Mother’s Day, might well be to feel a little guilty or apologetic. But only because consumer culture has trained us to think that if you spend half as much on a gift, then you’re only expressing half as much love or appreciation for the recipient. What one might well find, though, is that the right gift that’s inexpensive or even free can have a far deeper meaning than many gifts costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
The budget-conscious son or daughter need not feel bad about not spending a fortune on Mother’s Day, if instead he or she gives something from the heart.
For example, the traditional flowers for Mother’s Day, while still within some people’s budget, can get pretty pricey these days. So an alternative would be to pick some wildflowers oneself to present to Mom. Or better still, why not take a drive out to the country with Mom to pick them together? Maybe even bring along a picnic lunch and make a day of it. Then back home, make a nice arrangement out of the wildflowers together. Now when she looks at those flowers, they’ll hold warmer memories for her than if you had simply shelled out the money and had them delivered to her from a professional florist.
One option that’s always appropriate for Mother’s Day is something created for her by her loved ones, something that takes time and creativity rather than money.
Let’s say your three young children want to give Mother’s Day cards to your wife. It’s nice to go to the store and let them pick out some pretty ones they think she’ll like, but with the prices on even greeting cards getting pretty ridiculous, organizing a project for them to make their own is an appealing alternative. Again, not just because it’ll be less expensive, but because surely the children will have more pride giving cards they’ve colored and decorated themselves, with sentiments they wrote (and it goes without saying that Mom will treasure such cards more than the store-bought kind).
Another thing to consider is replacing money with labor. What’s something that Mom does from which she’d really appreciate a break? If it’s cleaning and housework, then give her the day off and spend a few hours filling in for her. If she gets up early every morning to fix breakfast for the family, let her sleep in one day and make her breakfast in bed. If it’s the grocery shopping or other errands that she finds tedious, take those over for her for one day.
But here’s an even better, related, present. Sit down and think honestly about all she does, and whether you’re pulling your own weight. Did she somehow get stuck with a lot of domestic chores just because she’s a woman or she’s a mom? If so, don’t just take some of these chores over on Mother’s Day to give her a break; announce to her that you’re going to start doing your share all the time, not as a favor to her, but because you should have been doing so all along. And then stick to it.
With a little imagination and thoughtfulness, it really isn’t hard to think of ways to show your mother you love her that don’t cost a lot of money. Overspending for her on a gift she knows you can’t afford is more likely to make her feel uncomfortable than happy. Whereas she’ll always appreciate something simple, personal, and from the heart, regardless of the cost.