The Recession & Rekindling the Magic of Christmas

by Insomniac Mummy on December 20, 2009

With the economy in recession, millions unemployed and thousands still under threat of redundancy, for many, this Christmas will be a financial stretch.

For us the financial strain of having another baby during this recession has proved to be a lot more tricky than we anticipated. Despite my obsession with logging every single incoming and outgoing penny on a spreadsheet, and planning six months ahead at all times, we are still struggling.

I’ve been consumed with guilt that I cannot give the children as much as I would’ve liked and that this year the rest of our family and friends won’t be receiving gifts from us. Especially since others have been so overwhelmingly generous to us in the past weeks.

In a way this situation has been a blessing in disguise. We have had no choice but to focus less on the material aspects of Christmas and more on our family. It has helped rekindle some of the magic of Christmas that perhaps in recent years has been sadly lacking.

It’s a Christmas of firsts.

Little E’s first Christmas, special even though she will not have any understanding of it. Big E’s first year of really being aware of Santa and the anticipation of Christmas Day. His first nativity, which made me so proud and the first time he brought home wonderful decorations, handmade at nursery, that will be treasured for years to come.

The way Little E beams with delight when she sees the Christmas tree lights or Big E’s utter wonderment at his special video message from Santa make me feel like a child again. These are their gifts to us. Their reactions are infectious and make me remember Christmas should be about magic and meaning and family.

So, while I feel guilty that I won’t be giving gifts to my family and friends, and anger and annoyance at the financial hole in which we find ourselves, this year I feel a renewed sense of enthusiasm for the festive season and the family and childhood associations that mean so much more.

Has the recession had any effect on your Christmas this year?

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Ellie is a working mum. In her spare time she spends far too much time waffling on the internet. She's a Twitter addicted Facebook fanatic, and an all round social media butterfly. You can also find her on Google + as Insomniac Mummy. She once walked across England and is planning on walking 100K in one day in May 2014 for Cancer Research. All she really wants is a good night's sleep...

Drop Ellie a line, if you like!

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

april December 20, 2009 at 4:23 am

Hugely – i feel massively guilty that i can't give my children all the things they want. But then, I never can. The recession doesn't effect me as I am constantly on a pension, money must constantly be watched and saved and seems to dissapear and its SO hard. While I am massively greatful for the support from the government it might be nice if they kept up with how much food costs and how much two children actually eat…but what can you do except budget, and budget and try to save :) and try to make things happy in other non presenty ways…It seems to be one of those years though – my best friend is empolyed but only got two shifts this week, he works in retail, so two shifts the week before christmas is kind of unheard of – thus he too cannot give gifts and feels awful about it…seems to be affecting everyone. Am glad you found your peace and happiness :)

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BNM December 20, 2009 at 7:57 am

With my husband still unemployed and mine the only salary coming in, Christmas is credit crunched. But with careful buying and buying preowned things I think we've made it. The only problem now is that I have several gifts left to buy and a payday on Wednesday which will have to be eked to cover Xmas dinner, leftover presents and rent etc until end of January!!!

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Chic Mama December 20, 2009 at 10:13 am

I'm sure your family all understand too although could you not make them gifts? For example little chocolates? Or is that an extra added expensive too far? Even the ingredients can get expensive…Nigella Lawson has a really easy recipe of chocolates with pistachios but then the nuts are expensive.
I hope you have a lovely day with your two little ones.

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Ang (A Mum's Survival Guide) December 20, 2009 at 11:43 am

Christmas isn't about gifts it's about family and I think a lot of us overlook that slightly (me included). I have restricted costs this year as we had a few months where we were seriously struggling, and just because we have some spare money this month doesn't mean I have to spend it and struggle in january when the toys are all just left in the toy box again. Merry Christmas, I'm sure it'll be special for you without gifts x

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Laura C December 20, 2009 at 1:13 pm

We were lucky enough to get our Xmas presents before hubby was paid off but we now have to really cut back on the food and drink. Luckily like you we've had a lot of offers from family and friends to bring extra bits and bobs. So long as we're all together for Xmas and the family don't get snowed in! Have a lovely Xmas!

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Kelloggsville December 20, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Many of my friends husbands have been out of work for a while and I spoke to them about not exchanging gifts this year, to take the pressure off them. But I would like to be able to give gifts without them feeling like they must give in return and I would be quite miserable if I thought they felt guilty, anger or annoyance at not being able to give. They aren't my friends because of what they might wrap up for me, they are my friends because they are lovely special people that I truly value. My guess is your true friends will feel the same way about you. Let go of the guilt : Have some fun making paper snow flakes and thread them on cotton, I rarely buy any new Christmas stuff – I love my old things and kiddie made things too much! (ps all the Church services are free too!!!!)

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Laura (LittleStuff) December 20, 2009 at 4:57 pm

We're in a far better position this year than, and thankfully aren't struggling. But we still won't be overspending either – the things the children treasure the most about our Christmas are all the small things, the little rituals and special personal moments. For us it's all about the family time, and I know research has time and again shown that the thing children want most from you is your time.
Only this morning my 6yr old cheered and said 'Hooray! It's the holidays! That means Mummy and Daddy are NOT working on the computer! They will come and play!"
Last year, just like you, we had to scrimp every penny – and yet we rediscovered the magic in the small stuff. Some baking, some paper snowflake making, some snugging up in front of the fire with a film… that's what we're all about this year.

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platespinner December 20, 2009 at 8:18 pm

We are really lucky that we are not massively struggling, although things are tight, but lots of our family and friends are. My family are great about limiting presents to the children, and only something little. My brother is doing Christmas dinner, and to help we are all bringing an element of the meal so the expense (and hassle) is spread amongst us all. Last year I cooked for in-laws and it you forget what an expensive part of Christmas it can be.

As others have said, the important part of Christmas is the opportunity to spend time with family. I am sure it must get harder as the children get older and understand the concept of Christmas and asking for expensive presents.

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TheMadHouse December 20, 2009 at 8:45 pm

You know that it is not the material things that matter. Little ones dont understand all that. The love, the being together and everything family is wonderful and what the children want.

I have made most of the presents this year and I hope that people understand the love that has been put in to them in every stitch

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Muddling Along Mummy December 20, 2009 at 9:56 pm

The things I remember about my childhood Christmases are not the presents but being together as a family – decorating the tree, singing carols, going to church, walks on Christmas afternoon, family meals

Being there enjoying being together as a family is more important than gifts

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Nomie December 20, 2009 at 9:59 pm

I have been thinking about this a lot too and wondering why Christmas has become so material, surely the concept of more, and bigger and better misses the point. You're so right, it's about magic, and meaning and family. My most treasured gifts are the ones my kids made when they were younger and still really in the middle of all the magic.
I have scaled back gift buying out of necessity and out of a desire to consume less… and my Christmas lead up has been less stressful as I've curbed the desire to spend, spend spend!
Have a wonderful Christmas watching you're little ones, that's what it's all about!

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Insomniac Mummy December 21, 2009 at 12:25 am

April – Yep, budgeting and making the best of life in other non material ways is the best we can do. Hope you have a great time this Christmas regardless of financial woes x

BNM – Sounds like it's been a tough year for you. I hope things improve in 2010 x

Chic Mama – I'm going to make some brownies and cakes just as token gifts I think. Plus some homemade cards from the kids. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas x

Ang – I think it'll be more special :) Merry Christmas to you and yours x

Laura C – Thankfully I bought some stuff for the kids back in October. I feel really lucky that my dad is paying for the food for Christmas lunch and my FIL has chipped in too. Family is far more important than gifts. Happy Christmas right back at ya! x

Kellogsville – You're spot on about friends and guilt. My problem is I love to give but I know they understand. :) Merry Christmas! x

Laura LS – This year has certainly rekindled the magic. I won't be going back to the stress of previous years anytime soon. Tomorrow is going to be snowflake making day :) . Merry Christmas x

Platespinner – Everyone bringing an element of Christmas lunch is a great idea! Don't think it'd go down too well with my Dad, brothers and FIL though. Sigh. ;) . Have a great Christmas x

The Mad House – I'm sure your homemade gifts will go down a treat! Just being with your family is worth more than anything. Hope you have a very special Christmas x

Muddling Along – You're right. I remember the things we did at Christmas, not what I was bought. The memories made are more precious. Merry Christmas x

Nomie – Isn't it funny how someone could buy you the most expensive extravagant gift, yet that would seem empty compared to picture or card made by one of your kids. My paper angel will be treasured for many years! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too! x

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