Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Age Old Problem

Here we are in mid-November already! I can hardly believe it, time flies fast. Of course, Christmas mania has begun already, and as the hype escalates, so does my stress level. It seems like every year I say we have no money, we need to be careful (frugal), we've got to cut back, and I worry and worry about how we will manage. And every year, I look back at the last year and think "Boy, I thought we had no money then! Now we really don't!"
Of course this year is no different. And I feel it's worse than ever, because my daycare numbers have dropped, and the cost of living is getting higher, and my DH is going back to school full time in January, which means no more income coming from him. On top of that, my only full time charge, Kadybug, is going to be going part time in February due to mom having another kid. Good news for when mom goes back to work, but not so great for the interim. To say I'm stressed is an understatement. I think it's part of why I am not sleeping well, and can't get over this damn cold as easily as I usually do. My every thought right now goes to saving money.
"Turn off the lights!"
"Hurry up and close the door, you're letting the heat out!"
"Turn off that water!"
I can't do laundry now, it's "high time".
I've even considered asking all the kids to stop flushing the toilet if it's just a pee, just to save on the water bill. And of course I've vaguely considered getting another job. I just wish there was something I could do from home, on the computer for a couple of hours or three each day. I think I'd be exhausted if I had to go out every evening after working from 7 till 5 at home. Nevermind that I would have to wait until DH got home, so I really couldn't start any kind of shift until 6:30 at the earliest. And I REALLY don't want to work weekends, which is part and parcel of working part time.
So the thing about Christmas, is that I set myself up for a hard act to follow years ago, when R was little, but old enough to understand the whole Santa act. I grew up with having most of my gifts from Santa, and wanted to continue that tradition here. But it's backfiring. What I should have done was to have Santa bring one main toy, the stocking, and that's it. That way, if we are having a lean year (when are we not?), it would be easier to say to the kids that they won't be getting much this year. Now if I were to say it, the answer is, "Why not? I thought Santa brought all the toys anyway?" It also makes it really hard to explain why other kids get less than they do, if they are really underprivileged.
Now R, who is 10, has said to me, "I don't know if I believe in Santa anymore, I can see a lot of things that don't make sense." A part of me died a little when he said that, but you know what? A larger part of me said, "FINALLY!!" He is a smart kid, so I was beginning to wonder when he would put the pieces together. I also don't want him to be the only kid in fifth grade who still believes in Santa Claus (I'm sure he's not, but he is probably in the minority.) So I'm not sure if he's going to ask me for the truth before Christmas, or if he's going to have one last year of childish innocence. I don't want him to grow up too fast, of course not, but it's like I have this secret I can hardly contain. And having them know the truth will make it much easier on me, and I can say, "This year, Mommy and Daddy don't have any money for the bills let alone gifts! much money to spare, so for Christmas you'll just be getting a few small things." As heartbreaking as that sounds, at least it doesn't set them up for disappointment Christmas morning.
Of course, L has started in with the skepticism as well. Although I think that he wants to believe, as much as his devilish little self would love to catch the adults in the act. I want to tell R to shut up when he starts spouting off his statements about the holes in the Santa story, but I also don't want to draw attention to it. If I were to tell him to stop, pull him aside and explain why he needs to keep the faith for his brother, that just makes it all the more obvious to L that something is fishy.
But having them know the truth means that I can watch so many more great Christmas movies with them. They have never seen The Santa Clause, with Tim Allen, because how many times in that movie do the adults tell the poor five-year-old that there is no Santa?? I didn't want them watching that, even though I do like the movie. And I've never shown them the beginning sequence of the Polar Express, when the kid spouts off about how he doesn't believe. And there's Miracle on 34th St., which is another set of adults telling a kid Santa isn't real.
I'm not ready to give up the magic that Santa brings to Christmas. Having that role to play brought me a lot of joy. I really didn't like Christmas very much as a young adult, until the boys were old enough to "get it". I'm scared that I'll just see Christmas as another bother again if there's no magic and wonder anymore. Even now, half the time I wish we just celebrated every other year.


  1. It's also easier for accidental slip-ups if only one gift plus your stocking, comes from Santa. I hope Christmas gets easier but the magic never completely disappears.


  2. It's tight for us too :(

    But we do have it that they get their stocking and one gift from Santa. That's the toy, and thy don't usually get toys from mom and dad. Sometimes a toy, sometimes clothes from us.

    What I need to change this year is how much I spend on my parents, brother and his girlfriend. It's also hard that we have my brothers birthday in November and my moms in December. Any 'good' ideas get taken then.

    I'm thinking of homemade things the kids can make and give their relatives, and I might make baked goods - try panettone, for example.

    It's always hard, isn't it?