I’m watching The Family Stone and working a bit with gingerbread in the oven, drinking my new favorite tea, eating a clove-flavored candy cane without my kids trying to steal it. There are equal amounts of dirty dishes covering every counter of the kitchen, laundry to be folded, beds that were never made and a kid who now has my awful cough and it’s making him cough so hard that he keeps throwing up. (Lest you think I manage to actually accomplish too many things in a day.)
We spent the early afternoon getting out just a few Christmas decorations and playing with them and looking at last year’s cards and sorting out what is going right back to storage so a certain 3-year-old doesn’t break something that means a whole lot to us. Mia had the idea to make a “Welcome Home” sign for our elf who will arrive any day now. I may have gotten a little bit teary when I looked at what she was making and realized that she could conceptualize drawing an elf AND write out the words with just some help from me on spelling.
But can I admit something? As happy as this time of year makes me (and it really does!) there’s always this thought in the back of my head about everyone without enough to meet basic needs right now, let alone the extra to make the holidays the way they might wish to make them. This bitter-sweetness that makes my own holidays warm and cozy with a little bit of melancholy on the side is exactly what makes holidays even more difficult and creates an even bigger dichotomy for those who are in need or who are missing loved ones. My thankfulness lately repeatedly goes back to being thankful simply for our needs being met. I’m thankful for so many things and try to be conscious of tiny blessings always, but in a year that wasn’t the greatest we’ve ever had financially thanks to job loss and other factors, we’ve certainly never known what it truly is to go without. And we’ve certainly had plenty of great highs to balance out our lows. We love our sweet little house and it keeps us warm and toasty, even if we just squeak by with enough oil to heat the house. We’ve never known what it is to worry about how we will feed our children or ourselves or how we’ll have clean water to drink or to use to bathe and clean and the holidays just seem to magnify these things as the added complication of coldness is added to difficulties. Loved ones will be with us and those that won’t are still a phone call or letter or email or plane ride away, not everyone is able to say that.
So I keep going back to my Amazon cart full of things I want to buy for my kids and I keep taking things out one by one. Because, the truth is, we just can’t afford it all. I feel like that’s something that no one is really willing to say these days, at least without cringing or feeling embarrassed. But it isn’t a result of having or not having money at all, it’s a result of not wanting to spend the money we do have on things we don’t need and wanting to spend more this holiday season (in both time and money) on the thoughts in the back of my head. Especially as an example for the kids. We’ve set a budget and it will cover just enough to make the season sweet. Just a few special things to enjoy and appreciate.
In setting a budget, I promised myself that I wouldn’t spend on any decorations for the holidays this year. We have more than plenty. But you know how it goes when it all starts and you’re feeling festive and you want to add some fun. It takes you directly to Target with visions of glitter throwing up festively all over your house. Or to Pinterest with it’s overwhelming array of holiday project possibilities. So I spent a little time this morning while the sick little one watched Handy Manny and actually accomplished a project I had pinned. “Chalkboard” wreath holiday art. I’ve been working on my Photoshop skills and I was so proud of myself for making this work and not having it take forever! It wasn’t entirely free. I spent $1.32 sending them to FedEx Office to have them printed on cardstock because our printer is dead, but I have frames to put them in and they’ll look extra sweet and festive for the holidays. Idea from here via Pinterest. Wreaths from here. Font is Atlas Greeting if you want to make your own version!
How are you feeling about the holidays this year? Ready? Ridiculously excited? A little sad and having a hard time feeling like you can say it out loud? I need to get past working in retail on Black Friday, then I think I’ll officially officially be ready!