Does a Bad Economy Equal a Sad Christmas for the Kids?

I was perusing the news sites yesterday, when an article caught my eye. All I want for Christmas: A Job. Right below the article title was the following quote:

This holiday season, there will be more workers competing for fewer jobs. ‘It’ll be a sad Christmas for my kids,’ said one job seeker.

My thoughts automatically went to children whose families would be faced with losing their homes. Families who couldn’t afford clothing for the children. Or medical care. Children in poverty, because their parents didn’t have an income.

That’s not quite what the article was about.

People Competing for Holiday Retail Jobs

The article focused on people who are competing for seasonal retail jobs. But it didn’t focus on people who are out of work completely. Instead it focused on people who had lost some hours at their jobs and were hoping to pick up extra hours in retail establishments during the holiday season.

I can understand people wanting to do that. When you grow accustomed to a certain level of income, and part of that income goes away, I can see trying to bring the income back up.

But then the article quoted a woman who has a good job, but her benefits have been cut. Her husband has a good job, but he lost his overtime. Both spouses have applied for part time second jobs. To which the woman said,

Neither of us have heard back about anything. It’ll be a sad Christmas for my kids, I guess.

I’m hoping CNN left out a big part of the quote. In this economy, most people are happy just to have a single job this Christmas.

Is Christmas About Money and Presents?

I love giving my kids great gifts as much as the next person. When my kids received their Wii for Christmas last year, I enjoyed seeing the huge smiles on their faces.

But is that all Christmas has become? An opportunity to spoil our kids with material things?

In the course of a lifetime, the economy is bound to cycle through lean years and years where people can afford to spend more. The availability (or lack of availability) of money shouldn’t make or break a wonderful Christmas.

I have written before that my family had very little money when I was growing up. One year I received underwear, yes underwear, for Christmas, because I needed it, and that’s where the money had to go. And yet, I cannot remember an unhappy Christmas. We celebrated the birth of Jesus. We spent time with extended family. Christmas was just in the air, and we reveled in it. It wasn’t a sad time, even though we didn’t have a lot of money.

In the grand scheme of things, a meager Christmas isn’t a crisis. A sad Christmas is a family celebrating for the first time after the recent death of a father. A sad Christmas is a family celebrating from a homeless shelter, because they don’t have a the money to afford a small apartment. A sad Christmas is one in which a child with a terminal disease has to celebrate from a hospital bed, knowing this may be the last December they live to see.

Perhaps I’m sensitive about this because my son and I are reading The Family Under the Bridge for school. Yesterday’s reading included the homeless children taking a trip to see Father Christmas. When asked what they wanted for Christmas, the oldest child declared she wanted a home. The middle child wanted food. And the youngest wanted a simple doll.

There are children in America who would be happy to have simple things like food, a house, or a single doll. Even though this might be a meager Christmas, please keep it in perspective. It is one year out of many, and a child not receiving the latest hot toy this Christmas will not ruin his life.

Make the most of this Christmas, despite a lack of money. Sing Christmas carols as a family. Watch the Christmas specials that come on TV. Go to a Christmas performance put on at a local church. Look at the Christmas lights. These activities all build great family memories, and they don’t cost a thing.

What do you think? Can you have a great Christmas, even if money is super-tight?

Photo by di_the_huntress.



Author

By , on Oct 15, 2009
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.

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{29 Comments}

  1. Missy:

    My husband has been out of work since last year due to an injury. We are fighting with Workmen’s Comp to get paid. We had absolutely no money to buy gifts. We are currently a bit over 10k in rent; thankfully our landlord is an angel here on earth. Although I feel horrible for being this much in debt to him, we have no where to go. My husband’s car is gone now. My car is 3 mths behind. I can’t find a job and have sent out 200+ resumes. We are slowly going in a downward spiral. To make my point about this topic, we went to Toys for Tots for Christmas. The gifts were great for our two little ones. However, the gifts for out older ones were not so great. My kids had no interest in the two things each I picked for them. The selection was limited and just didn’t pertain to their likes. My kids never compained, but you could see the disappointment in their faces. My 8 yr old came in my room later that day and looked ill. I asked him what was wrong. He said, “I don’t know, I just feel sad.” Then he started to cry. My oldest son who is almost 12 did the same thing. He sat on the couch and cried. These children were not crying because they are spoiled. They were crying because they had their hopes up for a “normal” Christmas. Opening two gifts that didn’t interest them left them puzzled. I am sure they wondered why we would purchase things they didn’t use, but they had know idea we went to Toys for Tots. We watched Christmas movies, sang, visited with family, made cookies, and did all the normal Christmas celebrations for Jesus birth. However, their little bit of hope to get something they liked was smashed Christmas morning. We felt really bad for them.

  2. D.:

    For the last several years I’ve told my Mom (to her asking ‘what do you want for Christmas?’) ‘Cookies! That’s all!’
    …she doesn’t seem to believe me. I like cookies! I *love* HER cookies! But she seems to think she needs to pad the package with hideous Christmas appliqued sweatshirts and various other extras.
    HONEST, MOM! JUST. COOKIES!!
    (p.s. YOUR kids will probably love it JUST AS WELL)

  3. I agree with everyone here. I think Pam said it best though: “that if they both have full time jobs… shouldn’t they save the part time seasonal jobs for people who are unemployed and really need it?”

    Christmas can mean more than simply gifts and the newest toys. Really enjoy time with family this Christmas. Sit, talk, laugh, enjoy.

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