Christmas Financial Stress

Last week has been a tough one. We had the winter tires installed on our car and it came back with a $900 bill. Front brakes and other maintenance stuff were essential, apparently. I say apparently because I simply know nothing about mechanics.

Then, we had a family supper with my in-laws. With the second on the way, a maternity leave is coming soon. Therefore, my husband proposed a gifts exchange to his family instead of this crazy gifts bashing going on for many years. We already do one with my family and enjoy it. It creates a funny ambiance when trying to guess who picked up our name. We also all enjoy getting something we wanted while not ruining ourselves. Well, it didn’t end up as wanted.

First of, my mother-in-law started saying she would buy gifts for all of us anyway. Then, his brother said he liked it how it was and didn’t want of an exchange. And his sister was sort of in between. We – my husband and I – ended up being the only ones wanting to give AND receive less.

To me, Christmas is about spending quality time with family and the ones we love. And yes, I enjoy kids having gifts and believing in Santa. But as adults, can’t we move on? I mean, I don’t see the necessity of spending so much and make Christmas a material event.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate gifts given to me. However, I don’t count on them; neither will they change my life. I’d rather have less and keep money for that baby coming.

So all this brings financial stress to me.

Did I Say So?

No. First of all, I felt ashamed that we seemed to be the only ones who don’t have “enough” money. I also felt like I was a cheapskate, which I’m really not actually.

Secondly, saying we might not have enough money to buy many gifts would have resulted into getting my husband’s parents worried about our finances. We actually don’t have financial problems, but I know we’ll have to be more conscious of our spending in the coming year. It is because I don’t want financial problems later on that I would like to spend less on Christmas, among other changes. Still, we would have been offered financial help, which we don’t want or need.

What Did I Do?

I briefly said it can be time consuming buying all this and that it turned out to be quite expensive too, but I didn’t explain further. I sort of accepted to be seen as the cheap one. So did my husband. And we submitted to what looked like a small majority… two persons actually decided for the others who kept silent enough.

So now, I’m also ashamed that we didn’t defend our thoughts. We simply avoided an argument about Christmas…

Christmas and Financial Stress?

I’m sure you can feel my anger simply by my writing. I love my in-laws, no doubt about that. Although I’m sure we’ll financially find a way to manage this, it gets me mad to associate Christmas with financial stress. There’s no way it should be like this. Christmas shouldn’t be about money or the gifts that come with it.

We’re far from being poor, but we’re the only ones who have a family of their own on my husband’s side. We’re also the only ones having to buy many kids gifts for nephews, niece and godchildren (whom will always come before spoiled adults). It does result in more expenses for us. I’m a little angry that it doesn’t seem to be understood and respected.

As a child, I remember years that an aunt or an uncle was going through hard times and couldn’t give gifts at all. I remember my parents kept as low profile as possible in front of them to avoid making them feel even worse about it. They even warned us (my sister and I) to not make any comment about it. I also remember years when it was my parents going through hard times… and others – including myself – understood.

Christmas and Its Social Pressure

Again, those who feel financially stressed about Christmas are the ones also feeling the “social pressure” about it. As if Christmas and gifts became synonyms. When compared with unfortunate ones, my problem is very small. Still, I want to change my materialist thinking about Christmas even more. Maybe next year I can dissociate myself from shame if it happens again.

The magic of Christmas is about some cookies made by hand for Santa, it’s about trying to watch reindeer in the sky, it’s about the happiness that comes with family reunions and it’s about being grateful for what we have.

I’m asking you readers, what should we say or do

to change things in my family-in-law?

Images credit: Christmas Stress, Gifts Pile, Holidays Stress

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