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This Holiday Season - Hope: Yay, Commercialism: Boo!

Nikki Maxwell, who you met in this week's web original, A Middle Class Christmas, shares some thoughts on how to get through the holidays on a budget.

Since I was laid-off in September, I've been asked a lot about holiday stress with three kids. Sure, it worries me. Right now, everything worries me. But here's the thing, in the absence of a lot of shopping money, creativity becomes really important. Family time starts to eclipse a need to go find presents at the mall.

I'm lucky. My kids have a lot of support. They won't miss all the presents and hoopla. I worry about being Santa and having to find a way to get those list items that the grandparents don't buy.

Here are some things we're doing this season to spread joy and limit that grinchy feeling:


  1. More music. We put on the old mixed holiday CDs and have been rockin' out. The kids and Grandpa are making up songs left and right and planning to perform "Rockin' Santa" on Monday the 22nd at www.kulakswoodshed.com
  2. Shrine to Santa and letters. My kids are decorating a lot and writing notes to Santa using their new mail system in the house. We talk a lot about the spirit of Christmas.
  3. Giving. There's always someone in a worse boat than me. I've done a lot of volunteering this year and it sure helps me not be such a whiny bitch. I've donated clothes and food as well as time and I feel a lot better for having done it.
  4. Crafts. We're making stuff and painting chocolate and being crafty. My kids can turn anything into a craft project as long as there is enough glue and tape.
  5. Phone calls. For me, my long distance is free. This means I can talk to my long distance friends and family a lot. This helps keep me sane.
  6. Focus on the family. We're planning a lot of Uno games this holiday season and we're talking a lot about family- those we see a lot and those we don't. It is a free way to feel enriched.
  7. Cooking. I made some cider recently and the smell was like a yoga class.
  8. Joy. Sometimes you just have to Be The Joy you wish to seek. You might not feel it at first, but sit around long enough in a jingly hat and you too will feel the joy.

Hang in there everyone! Have a beautiful season!
-Nikki

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