Christmas is one of the most joyous times of year for some. For thousands who are alone and under severe financial hardships, this time leads to depression and a feeling of hopelessness. Here are some tips to help you with those holiday blues.
Leave the ‘ I need the latest toy’ rage behind: Children grow up just fine without Wii. My children never got those expensive toys and they are three of the greatest people I know. They are not spoiled and neither are their children. My grandchildren did receive a Wiii last Christmas from a relative. My daughter told me they were bored within a couple of months. Many families spend $200-$400 dollars for a toy the kids are bored with in two months. The credit card bill is not paid off for 6 months. This shopping where you spend hours in line to buy a toy that breaks your budget is a compulsion that makes no sense. You need to stop that kind of insanity. If you are going to spend that kind of money, go on a family trip that will give years of memories instead. With parents working long hours and more than one job, kids need your time and support. They need you to listen to them.
Set your budget and stick to it: Let it go that you can’t afford much this Christmas. Let family members know that you will exchanging love and a visit rather than presents. Be honest with them. All families have had years where they could not afford gifts for everyone. Do a gift exchange in your family instead and make the cost of the gift low enough all could afford to buy one gift. If you are handy make gifts instead. The joy of overspending only lasts until the bills come piling in. When you can’t pay them, your depression will escalate.
Talk to your kids about your financial situation: Kids need to learn the reality of life. I grew up poor but never felt poor. I had my parents and family and a lot of love. I knew how tough things were and I learned what was important. This generation has gotten used to too much stuff, too much freedom to disrespect their parents, and not enough lessons in working for your allowance. How are kids going to grow up learning about life, when you protect them from your families reality. Lay things on the line. Learn a new line, “No, we don’t have the money.”
Cut down your list of to-dos so that you don’t become overwhelmed: Try to make a list of the most important functions, then say no to the rest. Pick the ones you or your loved ones will enjoy most. An example is visiting displays of Christmas lights in your community. It’s fun, free, and really a delight for the whole family. This is a great treat for an elderly parent who cannot walk much but can still be taken for drives. Your church may have a very special Christmas service like ours does, so that might head the list of events. If you don’t have money this year to see something, realize there is next year and let it go.
Take time for yourself: Many people tend to run themselves into the ground shopping. Take that same time and spend it with your children. Take your children somewhere special; play games; help them with projects; watch a Christmas movie that feeds the soul; snuggle up with your kids and read a Christmas story; go visit your girl friend you have not seen in ages; bake if that is fun for you; do something for you or your family that is fun; take time to take a warm relaxing bath or listen to soothing music. It is really sane to run yourself into a nervous wreck? Get off the Christmas frenzy train. It just takes one step, yours.
Take yourself or your family and volunteer: There are so many causes that need help. Start with your own church or at a community soup kitchen. You will understand how well off you really are. Your heart will receive a burst of warmth from the help you are giving. It has been proven that when you volunteer you feel better about your life and yourself. It gives you a reason for getting out and being active. It gives you a light in your life and reason to keep living and helping.
Give time to a neighbor who needs help: Ask neighbors especially elderly ones if they would like help. Many are too proud to ask for it. Many feel no one cares so why ask. Help them clean or plant some flowers. If nothing else just go have a cup of coffee with them, listening with your eyes and heart as they spill their fears and troubles. Listening is one of the greatest gifts you can give.
What to do for the holidays when your family is far away: visit a new church; or get involved with a senior center or club in your area; Invest in a pet to keep you company. A cat does not have to be walked and they are good company. When you get one, make sure it’s from the pound. Get a warm glow from saving an animal from being put down. Write down all the people that have blessed your life. Write down all your blessings both in the past and for each day in a journal. Writing in a journal is a great way to feel better. It allows you to express both your happiness and your frustrations. If you are mourning the loss of a loved one, try to dwell of the joy of those years. Visit a friend who has also lost their spouse to cheer them up. Visit a neighbor in a nursing home. So many people in nursing home, rarely get a visitor. Holidays are very grim for many of them. Light up their lives and you will light up yours.
What to do when there is no money for Christmas presents: This year our family is in the same boat as thousands of other families. I went to the good will and found new Harry Potter books to send to my grandchildren. They were hard back with perfect covers and only $1.00 a piece. Good Will stores have days where they give discounts on much of their goods including books. Last year I bought a beautiful porcelain doll for $4.00. I bought brand new Christmas decorations and paper for pennies. Shopping at the good will is a great place to buy some good merchandise cheap even if you have more money.
Make your children and family home made cards and wrap up gifts of your time. Back rubs are a good gift for someone you love. Quality, tender, alone time is a great gift to give your partner. Give your daughter or son a personal one-to-one time to make them feel special. Write them a Christmas letter letting them know how you love them, how proud of them you are, and the special gifts you see about them. I did that for all of mine two years ago and they cherished it. This works for everyone in your family especially your partner. If you your loved ones are far away, send them pictures through the internet. My oldest daughter did that and what beautiful memories. Since I can’t be there for those special events, I get to share it through pictures. Putting them on the internet, costs nothing at all. Be creative and think Gifts of love.
If your needs are critical, ask for help: Churches, even if you don’t belong to that church, will often help families with gifts and food at Christmas. There are so many families this year that have no income, it is not just a ‘poor peoples’ problem. I remember one Christmas when I was out with my back for a good month and couldn’t work. I had no money for warm clothes or food either. We were living in the mountains. My mothers church got wind of our need and surprised us with gifts of warm clothes and a turnkey dinner. My mom was out of town and didn’t even know how bad things were. I still remember how their gifts blessed our hearts and life at the time. Every family has had a year like that. It OK to take help when you are up against a wall. When you get better off, pass that blessing on.
Remember if you’re feeling blue, there is someone feeling more blue. Go and find them, give them your heart, your time, your listening and your depression will be eased in that gift.