It is that time again, that dreaded time for parents…Christmas. Being an adult I miss some of the magic the holiday once created, the belief that under that tree would be all my dreams coming true, and the feeling not so much that time was passing, but that time was stalled so I could take all the beauty in.
As an adult not all the magic is gone, of course. I do get to see it through the eyes of the children, and I get to meet Santa each year if for no other reason than I like to torture said children, and of course, for the first time in my life, my tree is exactly like I want it to be. Each and every ornament has been picked by my hands for the privilege of getting to be my audience.
But there is a definite negative to the holidays that I never saw as a child. The reality of how much those toys actually cost. The eye-popping awareness that somehow, someway I have to come up with that money.
My children, for the first time, are watching television shows with commercials in them. For years I got away with the Disney Junior Channel and Sprout, relatively simple shows with no toy commercials to entice my children. Now they like such shows as Transformers and Scooby Doo and while just the presence of those shows in my life is enough to scream, I also have to deal with the commercials. Each and every time a commercial comes on my children holler…”can we put that on the list!” I am not even sure they know what kind of toy they are asking for, or even the feasibility of their little fingers being able to operate the darn thing, but they want it.
I am a smart enough mom to realize that 99% of the things they want I would never buy for them if I had all the money in the world, but I still suffer each and every time I see their faces light with real joy and realize that I simply can not give them the full dream.
Will my children actually care on Christmas morning when they are tearing up the wrapping paper to get to those prized possessions? No. Will my children actually be disappointed when they don’t see one of the gifts? probably not. Plus we all know that Grandma will get it if I am desperate. That’s what Grandmas are for, to fulfill the dreams your mother can’t or won’t.
But there I was doing my bills this morning, and once again my account was overdrawn if I tried to pay all the bills that I owed. There are actually bills I am behind and that is such a depressing truth. Are we in danger of losing our house or not eating? No. But am I going to be able to go crazy this year for Christmas like I have in the past? No.
And that is the worst feeling this Christmas. Not that I am broke, but that my children are going to have to pay for the choices I made. Much of the debt I have was not avoidable, and the credit cards and student loans had to be used. But I don’t want my children to have to pay, debt and the feelings it brings should be as exclusive as the signer on that plastic card.
By working so hard to pay down on my debt my children will ultimately be able to enjoy the benefits, but it doesn’t make this December 25th easier. I know that one day all my money will be going to savings accounts rather than trying to pay bills faster and further. And if I thought for one moment that the true happiness of my child was tied up in my debt, you better believe I wouldn’t pay it. But I know the truth.
The truth is that my children will never know the sacrifices I am making for their future. They will never know that on the day their were born I started saving for their college and their first car, sometimes at the expense of paying a little extra on my college loans. And the truth is the path I am on, while still needing tweaks, is the right one for me. But man does it make me hate Christmas for the first time in my life.
Maybe a Christmas miracle will happen, and somehow I too will remember what the season is really about.