I had to run to Target for one thing, just a quick 5 minute trip, nothing special. I walked through the doors attempting to navigate the mayhem of holiday shoppers, find my sought after item, and extricate myself before anyone tried to fight me for the last box of something-or-other.
After a few minutes, I made my way to the back of the store and I was stopped in my quest by the toy section. Maybe it's just me, but at Christmas time the toy department always seems to shine a little brighter.
Kids buzz about, their eyes big and round as they inspect each longed for toy. Anticipation fills the air as the promise of brightly wrapped packages is so close at hand.
After all, what kid doesn't dream of a big pile of gifts on Christmas morning? 20, 30, 40 gifts all waiting to be torn into and played with. Each box holding a treasure of yet another bigger and newer do-dad to enjoy...
I used to love that excitement. The looks on the faces of the children in the stores as they mentally build their wish list.
But this is the first year that I have a child of my own, and the feeling suddenly became very different.
I realized that if we are broke this Christmas, what's to stop us from being broke next Christmas? Or when he's 5? Tears flooded into my eyes as I realized that maybe my son won't get to experience that magical Christmas morning.
Oh, there will always be gifts under the tree. Especially since I realized that you really can make gifts for free, but will we ever be able to give those brand new gifts that all of his friends are getting?
And before you say that Christmas is about more than gifts, I know that. I really, really do. My son will likely only ever see handmade gifts, but most of those do still cost money... So as much as I want my kids to grow up with a strong belief that things don't matter as much as people, I also don't want them to feel like they are missing out on something special.
I want that magical Christmas morning for them, and I was suddenly terrified that I wouldn't be able to provide any magic at all.
To The Parents Who Are Broke at Christmas
Maybe you are here too. This daunting realization has just hit you for the first time. You know that money is tight and Christmas just isn't in the budget. And maybe it will always be this way...
Oh my dear sweet friend, let your heart not be troubled, it really will be alright. Let me share with you the peace and reassurance that ran through my mind seconds after the tears started falling.
While we may be poor in money, we are rich in ways that my son will know everyday... No matter how much money we have from year to year.
He may never have the newest toys, but he will know that he is loved, cherished, and wanted.
He will never have to envy my smart phone or my computer, because my attention will be his.
He will know the love of literature, because I will read to him often.
He will know what home cooked food tastes like, because I get to stay home and make it for him.
He will know the warmth of my hands as I hold his little fingers in mine while we play outside.
He will learn how to do so many things, because I will take the time to teach him.
He will learn how to love music as we sing songs together in the evening.
He will know that he is worth more than the number of toys under the tree, because I will build up his character every day.
And he will know that we don't store our treasure on earth, but in heaven.
So while this family may never have money for a knockout Christmas morning... We have so many other things that last forever to give to our children everyday of the whole year.
And so do you. You are enough.
Know that what they REALLY want, is you to play with them.
They want you to read to them.
They want you to put down your phone and watch as they do gymnastics across the living room floor.
They want to go outside and show you the lizards that they found next to the garage.
They want to decorate cookies with you in the evening as the sun sets outside the windows.
They want you to tell them stories about when you were their age.
They want you.
So dear friend, this Christmas, even though we may be broke, the magic will still be there for your kids and mine. Because we will be there.
And that really is enough.