We always say those words: it's the thought that counts. But are they really true?
Every year we try to be budget-friendly with Christmas. That doesn't mean we actually make a budget and stick to it--it means that I make a list of people and then try to get the best gifts I can for as little money as I can. Every year I get excited and share how much I saved to Rob and feel proud that I could give great gifts and not break the bank. And yet I think most years we are still spending more than we should and dipping into money that should be for something else, like savings.
This year we've had more than a few hiccups. More like...earthquakes. While we totally believe that God is in control and will provide for us, this is a stretching sort of time financially.
Maybe I should stop dancing around and just say it: What this means for Christmas is that we can't afford it.
Thankfully I bought the boys a few things in July at the Target super toy clearance sale. We don't buy them a lot anyway, but I think I spent $30 and got some great gifts they will love. As for each other and the rest of our families...well. I've considered making gifts, but sometimes the supplies end up costing as much as something store-bought. Any gifts at all this year will be gifts from the heart, not the wallet.
I'm really scared that when it comes down to it, thought is not enough after all.
I mean, of COURSE, our family won't judge us or be disappointed, especially given the circumstances. But there is something so special about giving gifts and about having gifts to open. We usually give such small gifts anyway that to go even smaller brings on a sweaty, worried kind of panic. It is a really vulnerable feeling to have to tell someone you aren't really doing gifts this year, or to hand over just one small thing and hope that it's enough.
Please note that this isn't some kind of pity party post--I definitely feel like God is in control of this kind of stuff. When I start sweating about it, I remind myself: God knows that you have these issues and God knows your budget. TRUST. He has already dropped some unexpected blessings our way. I hope that maybe by the end of this, I will have grown in my faith. Which might look like me reminding myself to trust only 15 times a day instead of 50. So I need to learn to trust.
-Trust that God knows our circumstances and our finances. Trust that He has a plan for both.
-Trust that the people who love us will not be disappointed at the thought-based gifts this year.
-Trust that Christmas morning with fewer gifts under the tree (IF there's a tree) will still hold the real meaning of Christmas.
-Trust that my identity doesn't come from what a great gift I give. (Oooh, that's a zinger. Just realized that one as I was writing out this post.)
-Trust that Christmas really isn't about the gifts we give each other, but the gift of Jesus.
This year we aren't going to put it all on credit and hope in January we have money to pay it off. This year we aren't going to spend with wishful thinking. This year I feel like we are putting words to the test--is it really the thought that counts?
Though I worry and feel insecure about this Christmas, I think I already know the answer to my fearful question. And maybe this will be the most meaningful Christmas of them all.