A bit of a rant.
I was out the day before yesterday (December 22nd) with my daughters. We went to the dollarstore, and I said to them each. "You pick one thing for each other. Don't let the other sister see it. You pick one thing for your brother. You pick one thing for me and one thing for your step dad." (who no longer lives with us, but is still very much involved with them, and I love that we are all very comfortable and happy to have them spend time and love each other. This is only important, because I need it to be clear that I am paying all my own bills. There is no child support here from my childrens fathers, and I'm not sharing house bills with a partner.)
This is the first Yule/Christmas I've done this 'go buy some small prezzies' with them. I figured, they were old enough to get it. And, they've figured out the Santa thing, so I hadn't yet purchased things for the stockings. I figured I would pretty much let them buy some little things for each others stockings, and I could get a few things for them at the same time. If we saw each other in the aisles, we could giggle and not look.
I gave them each a $20 bill, because that was all I had in my wallet, so they could secretly pay for their own things. I figured I was in this for about $10 for this little bit of fun, from each of them. And possibly another $8ish from myself.
We each separately went our ways with a handbasket to poke around.
In the end, one came back with $2.60ish in change. One came back with $3.50ish. They completely blew the budget. Because they had to get a FEW things for each other, and then in addition to the list, they got something here and there for a few people who were not on the list of my instruction.
In the store, I had that FEELING that I have been intentionally trying to ELIMINATE in cutting out this gifting thing. That HEAVY, broke sadness that this whole spend spend spending season creates. I almost started crying in front of my children, in the fucking dollarstore. For the want of the extra $23ish they spent. My own bill for the few things I got them was $12. So, for the want of $35, I came very close to creating a feeling of BAH HUMBUG for my little family. I'm so glad I caught myself before all the words came out. "We can't afford" and blame and spreading the feeling of BAD BAD BAD babies.
I get us by. I have been earning just enough to pay for what is necessary. And I know my words create a reality. Life IS Good, and I AM Love, and we DO have abundance. Enough to pay the bills and eat well. I am extremely thankful for that.
What we DON'T have is a whole lot extra for one big extravagant month of spending in the name of Jesus or Walmart.
So, how I get through this is to either make my hand what I will gift to my kids, or purchase a little thing here or there. I have been working at a thrift store since April, and that has helped. I've been stashing little things here and there, that have struck me as "yes, the girls will like this." All the little things still managed to all fit into one large reusable shopping bag. Minus two boxes.
It has been very very important to me to slowly reduce this month of unnecessary spending. I no longer purchase gifts for anyone else outside of my children. My family knows this. I made some biscotti cookies this year for my families to share during our visits together.
I refuse to feel bad for not purchasing gifts for everyone - I am a single person doing my best to be in all the places I am needed - here with kids, and finding work to pay the bills that I have - Expressing LOVE should not involve a price tag. It involves time and attention given and spent. It involves expressing appreciation and caring.
We have been SO conditioned to this spending at Christmas thing.
And, I have done very well, within my emotions, to keep it all in place in terms of not spending cash I don't have. I feel good and right about it. But, this moment in the Dollarstore caught me by surprise. I felt like a LESSER, NOT good person, because all I could think about was I needed that money to make the car insurance. (A car I'd rather not have, but being only 1.5 years into the payments for it, I'd never get back by selling it the amount I owe on it... so I'm stuck with it.)
I took a breath and smiled for my kids in the Dollarstore instead. With a forced giggle I said, "You guys totally blew the budget." As I slipped the coins left back into my wallet. They then proceeded to let me know they had to get each other THREE things, and something for an Aunt and Uncle and their year old cousin, and something for a grandparent.. and for one of the cats. "That was not the instruction I gave you." I said, but left it alone... I had no wise and thoughtful words to say at that moment, and sometimes It's best to say nothing. I would NOT cry in the Dollarstore.
BUT this made me think about all the people out there who DO feel pressured to buy for everyone... and go around ALL holiday season with the heavy feeling that I had for about 2 minutes. A feeling of being NOT GOOD ENOUGH, because they feel they have NOT ENOUGH MONEY to be happy or make their loved ones happy. How does this affect your holiday??
It blocks JOY and LOVE and ABUNDANCE and HAPPINESS. It shuts you out from the world, makes you unable to feel any love delivered or shared with you. How does this SERVE anyone? How does this feeling that comes this time of year encourage time spent be a joyous and sharing occasion?
I'm past my own feelings of inadequacy that rolled up into my mouth tasting of stomach bile... It's been replaced with the need to almost CRUSADE against this spending thing we have all been conditioned to do.
I'm breaking the cycle. Have been for years. Now that the big Santa Reveal has happened, it will be so much easier.
The day must begin.
You were warned this would be a rant.
I may do some revisions at some point, but my day must begin.
P.S. I'm not looking for pity, or charity in this post. I think what I'd like most is to wake some realization in others. That is all.