Monthly Archives: December 2012

Thank you x 1,000,000,000

I am a classic overachiever. Worse, I’m a fiercely independent overachiever.

I (think) I can do it all without any assistance. I’ve always supported my husband and kids. Never needed much help. Never ask for much from anyone.

Now I find myself in a position where I can’t do everything and I do need help. It’s been such a blow to my ego. I’ve cried every day because of it. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

The easiest thing? Saying ‘thank you’. And this week, I’ve said it at least a hundred times.

I hate talking about finances. Just hate it. It’s ugly. It’s personal. It’s the weight on my back nearly everyday.

Last Sunday’s homily was just what I needed. I’ve been so stressed about our finances and Christmas and just the general ickiness of it all (money, not Christmas). I did exactly what Father Sal said…I made Jesus my financial advisor. (OK…he totally didn’t tell us to do that, but told us to give over your problems to Jesus — finances = our problem)

Jesus is my financial advisor. Has a nice ring. Could make great bumper stickers. But in all seriousness, this is what I did.

I can’t tell you what peace I felt after that.

Things were looking up. I cashed in some points from my CC for some gift cards (gifts!!). I was happy. I was at peace. Then, last week hit. Our refrigerator died and I totally lost it. I spent 2 days crying and worrying.

You know what…Jesus showed me up.

Now I’m crying for a whole different reason…I’m overwhelmed by generosity.

In four days our friends and family have: given us a fridge, offered to give us a fridge, offered to subsidize a new fridge, given us money, given us food (for our new fridge), given us a laptop, given us clothes, given us furniture. We had friends give us a great Christmas present for the kids a couple of weeks ago too.

We literally hit the jackpot on generosity.

And you know what…I will never doubt Jesus again.

Our Low-Budget Christmas

Ed and I have always made a good living, for ourselves and our kids. 18 months ago I made a leap of faith, quit my job and became a stay-at-home-mom. I planned on freelancing a few projects or hours a month for some extra spending cash and all would be well. Then came along the fourth little Sicotte and totally busted our budget (in the best way possible!). So life’s been tougher than we anticipated.

Taking care of a family of six on one income is quite a challenge. And this girl is ALWAYS up for a challenge. Living on a shoestring has taught us to be mindful, thankful and frugal (and prayerful!).

Luckily my kids aren’t the kind to care what kind of clothes they wear or having the newest this-or-that. Ed and I have always been the drivers of that behavior. So we needed to re-prioritize our way of thinking to make this all work. And we’ve done a pretty good job. The kids understand that toys are bought on birthdays and Christmas. New clothes are purchased if they grow out of their old ones. Going out for dinner or lunch is a special treat that happens a few times a year.

They get it. I’m the one that has a hard time accepting it. Sometimes. Like when Christmas rolls around.

I admit it. I love giving. I love spoiling my kids with fun gadgets and toys. I love the look on their faces Christmas morning. I love the wrapping paper chaos, littered all over the floor. And shopping during Christmas is so much fun…the colors, the sights, the music, the lights. Marketers know what they’re doing because it gets me in the mood to spend money.

Which brings me back to this year…very little money = bah humbug Jenny.

I started thinking and praying long before Thanksgiving rolled around. What can I do to give my kids a great Christmas that’s not gift-centered? What can I do that would bring us all joy? How can I make memories that aren’t about “remember the year we got [this gift]?”

Answer: Bring Christmas back to where it all started…make Christmas about Jesus, about giving, sharing and being a good person. Make Christmas an experience and not about bows and paper. Be present and not be about presents. Teach my children that Christmas is about sharing and not getting.

So…I present our Low-Budget Christmas.

We’re focusing on crafts, homemade gifts, family, baking, generosity, laughs and yes, Jesus.

This week’s crafts were an advent “wreath” and ornaments.

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I saved up a week’s worth of baby food jars and we modge-podged pink and purple tissue on the outside, placed a tea light inside and…ta-da…advent candles. Of course my smarty-pants, overachiever notified me that we didn’t make a white jar (he’s paying attention in CCD, at least!). So, we’ll add that for next week’s candle lighting.

We painted some wooden ornaments I bought two or three years ago. They had fun with that project too. Later that evening we watched a Christmas movie. Cost: $1 for the tissue, $3 for the movie rental (we splurged with this!) = $4 for Christmas fun!!

Speaking of CCD, my daughter got this advent calendar in class. We’re definitely going to do these things. Feel free to follow along.

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Next weekend we’re boarding the Sicotte Polar Express. Prepare for ultimate fun!

Just a note: This blog is not a Sally-Struthers appeal for generosity (although a couple of friends have generously helped us in that aspect – thanks ladies!!), I hope this serves as an inspiration to everyone that you can make Christmas memories that cost little to nothing if you really put your mind to it.