Christmas without cash

Ciaran Henderson, Staff Writer & Website Manager

For such a materialistic holiday like Christmas, I feel like I have missed out on a lot of opportunities to have an awesome Christmas. Growing up in a very low-income household, Christmas is always the time of year where I see more holiday stress, than holiday cheer.

As we get older, it is not too far off that I can say teenagers are very expensive humans. We want the newest iPhones, or we want the coolest new $60 video game that just came out. But for me, I always learned that asking for expensive items was not an option. Knowing that my mother was barely able to keep our roof over our heads, it turned me and my little sister away from asking for super expensive items. For us, it was simply outlandish.

Struggling with money is not always fun. Maybe you have upper-class friends who got some super expensive present for Christmas. You become envious and upset because you know your parents could never buy you something so pricey. You learn to accept what you get and you learn to love the little things you get regardless of price tag. When you realize more of the importance of the gifts you receive, it is something sweeter than just an iPhone, and so very unique.

My parents search so intently for my Christmas gifts. Trying so hard to appease me on Christmas. They wrap them up all cutesy and make them look nice under the tree. No matter how many or how few there are, I am always grateful. They calculate, they think long and hard about what my little sister and I will love the most. They go all out for what they can afford. And I know that. Every year I hear my mom panic because she does not know how she can afford anything for Christmas. But every year, she manages to pull it off with my dad.

For those who struggle over the holiday because your family is struggling, I commend you. It is hard to envision this perfect holiday in your mind when the ground is just glittering in gifts. In reality there is maybe six presents there for you. Know there is nothing wrong with being of a lower class, and it is not something to be ashamed of. There is no pity and there is no disgust. Sometimes we get angry and we get envious, but take it as a reminder that those gifts are special and are meant to be more than nothing. For the most part, our parents really do try to make us happy despite the holidays not always being able to provide a Hallmark worthy Christmas.

So this Christmas, know that it may not be all that you want. Or all that you expect. Perhaps it is all that you expect and ask for. But know that parents are trying. And being low-income still has its downside, but it in a sense brings everyone together in the end. Because when a parent sees their children getting excited to open their gifts, and a child gets excited to open those gifts, it makes for the real reason to get into Christmas spirit. It gives everyone hope for a better future. But it also gives your family assurance, for just a second, that at the moment, everything is normal and family is all that matters.