Celebrating Christmas should be about more than spending money. Intuitively, we know this to be true. There is a trend, even among those with bountiful funds to spend on holiday merry-making, to disconnect from the blatantly commercial and ,instead, seek soul-felt simplicity.
For our family, thrift has always been a necessary way of life, not something that we drew out of our back pocket on an “as needed” basis. My husband and I raised our fours sons on an income that was significantly south of the national average and just a bit above the poverty line. We lived in the murky, middle ground of the “not quite middle class”.
Though we could have chosen to dwell on our lack at Yuletide, we chose to defer to our regularly exercised habit of giving thanks for God’s provision. Creating memorable moments doesn’t cost a lot of money, but it does take intentionality.
Here are three steps which will help you evaluate what is truly important during the holiday season.
Change Your Focus
I have always been fascinated by Magic Eye posters. These became wildly popular probably twenty-five years ago. When looking at these drawings, one sees an ordinary scene. We take it at face value, believing that we are discerning everything that there is to know about the photo. Yet, there is a hidden message or image, which can only be perceived when we readjust our focus.
As we do, suddenly we view the piece’s hidden element. Often, it appears 3D, as though it is jumping off the page toward us.
Doing Christmas on a budget is just like that Magic Eye artwork. We must pull our attention away from the obvious: the busyness, the toys, games, technology, and expensive gifts, which all too often represent Christmas.
Instead, we must focus intently on what is generally unseen: the moments together as a family watching campy holiday animated classics from the 1960’s, reading aloud from Dickens’, A Christmas Carol, stringing popcorn for the tree, stocking shelves at the local food bank, assembling DIY gifts together – breathing deeply of that which is not tangible.
This new perspective will automatically allow you to re-evaluate, rearrange, and reorder how you are choosing to spend your time (and money).
Related Content: “Finding Balance”
Focus on the Power of Stories
Every year, as part of our Christmas celebration we, inevitably, tell the story of the birth of Christ.
If we already know the sequence of events, why is it important to review the details every twelve months?
It’s because stories, (especially the story of Jesus’ birth) contain a meaning beyond the words.
Any lover of history will tell you that pouring over a list of dates and events is deadly-dull boring. Yet, when you chronicle history as the stories of real people, with real lives, and real emotions, then, my friend, you have something alive, vibrant, noteworthy -and still being repeated hundreds of years later.
I would challenge you to take the power of stories to a higher level this Christmas.
My husband and I have often told our sons, “The good thing about being raised without any money is that you have a lot of stories.”
In this instance, we were referring to stories of God’s supply – the times when we depended on the grace of God, the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, and the provision of a power greater than our own.
Every day, we are surrounded by miracles. It’s just that we don’t take the time to recognize them, or the supernatural grace which has granted them.
Christmas gives us the perfect opportunity to speak our stories to our children. For it is these stories which will be repeated to our grandchildren and great grandchildren, building the faith of future generations.
Focus on Time
When I discovered that I was pregnant for the first time at the age of 32 (after many years of infertility), my husband told me, “Our children may not be raised with a lot of money, but they will have a lot of fun!”
We have kept that promise to ourselves – especially at Christmas.
We never had much money, but we did have a lot of time.
So, we consistently and regularly gave our children the gift of time.
We deliberately created holiday traditions which cost us no cash. From watching the Santa Claus Parade to strolling the annual lumière walk at the nature center, we gloried in creating familiar paths of celebration and forging family unity every single year.
My older two boys are grown and, yet, they request these same traditions every year, ensuring that they make time in their own schedules to be there.
Because it isn’t spending money that counts. It’s spending time.
If the holidays are passing by in a haze of overspend and overwhelm, then, rediscover joy.
Change your focus.
Need more help?
My eBook, Creating Meaningful Holiday Memories on A Dime chronicles our family’s journey to create holiday traditions without spending any money. I provide step-by-step instructions, forms, and checklists for you to create your own meaningful memories.
It’s one of three FREE bonus eBooks you’ll receive with the Debt-Free Christmas Binder: the All-in-One Printable System for Ditching Holiday Debt Forever. Click here for details.