It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The stores are abuzz with activity as everyone hustles and bustles through the aisles looking for that perfect gift. It seems that everyone has made a list and is checking it twice. Some have already completed their shopping and are prepared for the big day to arrive. Others are waiting for the annual thrill of the last-minute rush. But there are those who, for some reason or another, are not able to provide their families with the items on their wish list this Christmas. Perhaps a job loss or slow business derailed this year’s finances. The provider may be completely overwhelmed by the prospect of a giftless Christmas, especially if there are children in the household. But there are ways to make the holidays just as joyful as ever.
As much as children like to unwrap presents, what they crave most from us is our time and attention. Instead of focusing on the usual techie gadgets, games and Barbie dolls, a few thoughtful expressions can make this challenging season one of good cheer.
Here are a few ways to overcome the holiday overwhelm without breaking the bank or looking like Mr. Scrooge:
* Create a family album with snapshots of times spent together and gift each member a copy.
* Make a video with little vignettes from past occasions. Add captions to identify the event time and place. Overlay with a playlist of background music that captures the essence of the family.
* Purchase tickets for a holiday-themed event that takes place just after the holidays when the prices will be deeply discounted.
* For those who absolutely, positively believe that opening a present is a must, then hosting a Secret Santa with each family member responsible for providing just one gift is a surefire way to keep costs down. This way everyone gets a gift and no one goes broke.
* Organize a charity event in which everyone participates by donating toiletries, gently worn coats, books, old cell phones or any other requested item to a local nonprofit organization, hospital or homeless shelter.
* Last but not least, engage everyone, especially the children in the old-fashioned, now unpopular tradition of sending Christmas cards. Have them purchase a few boxed cards to handwrite and mail to the elderly, sick or shut-in relative or neighbor. This exercise will teach them the joy of giving which is the true spirit of the season.
By creating an experience, you will give the young members of your family a lasting memory that they’ll talk about for many years to come. Who knows? They may even pass the new tradition on to their own children during the happ. . . happiest season of alllllllll
Jennifer Lavern is a keen observer of the issues that affect how women view themselves and how they interact with their world.