Remember earlier this year, when we were making a very big attempt at purging all of our stuff and living more simply?
Why is it so hard to remember that intention at this time of year?
Or rather, why do I feel guilty for not overwhelming my kids with gifts or giving extravagantly to friends and family?
I think I know what it is for me, and it’s kind of difficult to swallow because it shows a certain shallowness of my character, I think.
I am afraid that if people see us giving only a few things to our kids, or small token gifts, they will believe it is first and foremost because we can’t afford to give them more and not because we have made the choice to keep things to a minimum.
Because not having enough money is pretty much the worst thing, right?
You need to have more, bigger, more expensive things. Right?
You need food.
You need shelter.
You need clothes on your back (or boots on your feet).
I also think you need healthcare, love and an education but really, food and shelter and clothing pretty much cover the needs.
Food: I think we eat fairly well, considering the budget is so tight it squeaks ($220, for 2 weeks- 5 people plus pets and all paper, health and beauty supplies, etc.). Since we’ve given up most convenience foods except for mac and cheese and the occasional frozen appetizer, it’s gotten more difficult but I like to cook so I can usually make it work. I practically do a dance out the doors at Target when my total is under and I can grab a Starbucks on my way out the door!
Shelter: We live in an OK house in a fabulous neighborhood. Actually, who am I kidding? It’s the eyesore of the block but we’re only renting so I really don’t care what it looks like on the outside. The neighborhood is exactly where I would want to live forever, but on one income, it’s probably not going to happen anytime in the near future. I’m OK with that. I will enjoy my ugly house and the 4 coffee shops and lovely restaurants within walking distance while we are here.
Clothing: I will admit, my kids get a lot of their clothes from grandparents and when I buy them, they are usually second hand from the St. Paul Moms of Multiples sale. They have no need for clothes. Although I have completely fallen down on the boots/ snow pants thing this year. Epic Mom fail.
Healthcare: We have more than enough of that to go around although I’m not too excited about the new plans offered by Yogi Dad’s employer. I’ll be interested to see what is offered in the exchanges once they open. The boys have pretty much everything, and I mean EVERYTHING covered regarding their autism therapies because we also have TEFRA which is like a supplemental insurance for kids with disabilities. It’s simply amazing.
Love: I’m pretty sure the boys know they are loved. They only get told and hugged and kissed and cuddled and squished about 97 times a day. It’s literally my coping mechanism when things get rough. Things going straight to the shitter? To-do list too long? Kids acting like crazy people hopped up on Pixie Stix? Just tackle them all with hugs and loves. Nothing brightens my mood more than a smiling kid asking for a Puppy Kiss.
Education: Way back when I was in high school a friend of mine and I were having a discussion about what was the most important thing for a child and I said “and education”. She said “love”, but I just take that as a gimme- of COURSE kids need love! I still stand by my answer. The boys have an amazing group of people who are working with them to figure out their little minds and make them the best kids then can be. I don’t doubt that we would be in a completely different place in our journey if we lived somewhere that did not have the same emphasis on education and early intervention that they do here in Minnesota.
So, all the other stuff is just “stuff”.
I don’t want to do without all of it. Some of it I could do without. I definitely don’t feel the need to add to it.
So why then, do I feel inadequate this time of year?
There are so many people who have less, much less than we do. People who do not have their basic needs met, why am I even contemplating what more I should buy simply because it’s Christmas?