Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Stress

I feel kind of awkward posting this, but I really need to get it out. I'm not angry, really, just incredibly sad.

We had to wait to start our Christmas shopping until Brian got paid (on Sunday), because things are really tight, and we're living paycheck-to-paycheck, and we don't have credit cards. So we live on a cash-only basis. Well, the treasurer didn't show up in church on Sunday (understandable, because it was sooooo cold, but it still set us back ANOTHER day). There were only a handful of people there, actually, because of the weather. So he brought the check yesterday. Except that it was for only $500. We are supposed to get $2400. There is not enough money to pay Brian the rest of his salary this month, b/c the treasurer picked NOW to catch up on some other bills that were past due (insurance and pension). They hadn't gotten the ultimate hate letters, yet - just the "you're behind" ones. But it scared him enough that he paid out over $6K to them, leaving nothing to pay Brian. Giving is down a little, because of the economy, but the bigger problem is that the church has lost 3 big givers in the last 18 months - people who have died, who used to help out extra when things got tight.

So we are struggling to budget Christmas for 6 kids, on a very limited amount of money. This has to also pay for incidentals, and stocking stuffers, and Christmas dinner (except for the meat, which is a standing rib roast, a gift from Brian's dad - thanks, George!).

We figure that $75, more or less, for the older 5 will suffice, and Hannah won't really notice that she's getting less... Brian and I aren't getting anything for each other, and there's nothing to get anything for any of the extended family, until after Christmas. And I made a mistake last night - bought a scooter for David, which I *thought* was $25, but was actually $50. Toys-R-Us had a bunch of them in the wrong place... So we may have to return it, and refigure the plan. But we're running out of time.

We usually get the kids Beanie Babies or Webkinz for their stockings, and each gets a book, plus the usual candy and cheap trinkets. But I just don't think there will be enough for that, this year. How do we explain there being nothing in their stockings??? Brian forgot about stocking stuffers when he budgeted for stuff...

Add to this the fact that Christmas shopping stresses me out. I really mean that. All the commercialism, and all the STUFF. My kids really don't NEED anything, but there still need to be presents under the tree. I come close to having a panic attack in the toy store every year, trying to negotiate the mountains of toys, trying to figure out something that they'll actually play with, that they don't already have, that is within our (always) limited budget. It's too much. I left the store last night with a splitting headache, and tears in my eyes.

Now, I am sure that everything will come out all right in the end. We've had offers in the past to help us if things get tight, and word has already spread throughout the church that Father can't afford gifts for his family. So I would not be at all surprised if a few checks and anonymous donations wound up in Brian's mailbox. And I will feel like an idiot for not trusting God in this, too.

Because, this is not the first time that we've been faced with financial issues like this, and every time, God has provided. And I always worry and fret, whine, and complain. And yet, God is there. And blesses us, in spite of my lack of faith. I just wish that I could truly give it all to God, and know that He will provide what we need. He always does.

Sometimes, I truly wish that we could do Christmas without all of the commercial stuff, and just remember what Christmas is *really* about. I get so worked up about ll the *stuff* and I forget to just *be* and simply wonder at the Gift that was given that first Christmas morning. And if He is who He says He is, and He was raised on that third day, then He can (and will) provide for us. Abundantly.

But I still want to give my kids Christmas. And it makes me sad that I might not be able to. I guess that I need to trust that they will have the Christmas that they need, even if it's not the one I want to give them. I've got a lot to learn, yet... Once again, I'm reminded that God is in charge of all of it. He's Lord of everything, and I need to trust that He will take care of us in this, too.

But it's just hard.


  1. I would be furious too! If there isn't enough money in the budget to pay the clergy and cover bills, then they need to redo the budget and get rid of some things.

    As for stockings, why not make a few small things. Maybe a batch of the kid's favorite cookies and put a couple in each stocking?

  2. Oh Karen, I am so sorry you were faced with this unexpected struggle! We too are living paycheck to paycheck right now, and needing to save up for moving in a few weeks. My kids each got $90 with of items.... and I felt bad at first about it, but recently realized that it really was okay. That what I did get them was out of love, and within the means I was given. I think God is working on EVERYONE as a nation right now through the 'economic crisis' to force us to better appreciate what we do have and make most of limited resources. We have focused too much on, like you said, the commercial end of things, buying outside of necessity, and loosing appreciation in the ability to provide for our families.

    I like Noah's idea! Make them their favorite cookies!


  3. I can't wait for the day we feast on aged wine and choice beef with Jesus...I'm gonna give my dessert to you guys. Karen, you know it's ok to fight a bit...there are few days that go by in which the last thought through my head is "i'm sorry Lord. I love you".