I’m Grateful for Enough

This is what I’ve been needing to write.  I mean, I’m grateful for so many things (not least for the opportunity to write for you), but the thing I keep coming back to now that the holidays are upon us, is how nice it is to have just enough.

And in this case, I’m not really talking about just enough of any one thing.  It’s everything that we always feel we are lacking.  I have been struggling with that as well, that feeling that there’s never enough time and never enough money and never enough of me to go around.

Well, we haven’t received a large raise or won the lottery and I certainly haven’t had more hours in the day magically granted me (wouldn’t that be nice though?).  I’ve just adjusted to where I am right now.  My brain has stopped telling me that next month the money won’t be so tight.  Next month we’ll be able to spend money like we did when we both worked full-time and we didn’t have a child.  I’ve adjusted to the fact that everything I do takes much longer than it used to and that everything can’t be done to the high standards I would like just right now, nor for the foreseeable future.

And I had to share this with you, because it has been so freeing to me.  This year, I made a budget for Christmas gifts, and I stuck to it.  First year ever.  And it wasn’t a large budget…  But that’s OK.  Liam is too young to really care about having lots of stuff.  We’re too old to really need a lot of things.  Everyone else on our gift list will be OK if we don’t spend a lot of money on them.  We simply don’t have a lot of money to spend right now.  We’d like to spend more money on people (to say nothing of ourselves), but the money just isn’t there.  I’d like to give money to every third charity that asks me for it.  But I’m only doing two this year.  I only have so much money.  I used to really agonize over everything at this time of year.  I wanted to give my parents extravagant gifts because they have no one else to give them extravagant gifts.  I wanted to give Mike extravagant gifts.  I wanted to give money, real money, to lots of charities.  I agonized over it because even when I had way more than I do now, I did not have enough to do everything I wanted to.  I wanted to spend a lot of money on gifts because I wanted to buy perfect gifts that would truly reflect how much I cared about the recipients.  I wanted to give to charities because I believed in their causes (well, obviously) and I wanted to really help them out.  I also wanted to save a lot of money for rainy days and large purchases.

Now, I have what I have.  I give what I can from the pot, but I have a really good feeling for what I can afford and what I can’t.  I can’t buy the greatest gift for everyone I’d like to buy a gift for. Some people are getting baked goods this year because I can put thought into it, but not so much with the money.  Sure I could buy something at the dollar store, but I think baked goods have a much larger chance of being truly appreciated.  Plus, you can’t hoard them.  And they’re American-made.

I think I’m coming to terms with the fact that everything takes me a lot longer now than it used to.  There are just dozens of things I can think of that I’d like to do at Christmastime with my child, but I really have to pick and choose.  For instance, I really love to make rolled cookies and homemade candies, and I’d like to give those for gifts.  And I’d like to make two kinds of rolled cookies, four kinds of candy and a few cakes and pies.  But I just don’t have time for that.  Well, time and energy.  It isn’t necessary for me to drive myself to exhaustion to show my loved ones that I love them.  In fact they’d probably feel more loved if I didn’t.

It’s still hard in a way though, because I really do want to do everything possible.  And every year, I learn about a few more things I could be doing for Christmas this year.  What I’m telling myself this year is this: I can’t do it this year, but that doesn’t mean I will never do it.  Christmas will come next year and the year after that and so on.  My son will be older and will require less supervision and be better able to help me one day.  And the truth is, what I have is enough.  I have enough money to give gifts and still pay my bills, I have enough time to celebrate Christmas, if more modestly than I’d like.  I have enough energy to have fun with my toddler and occasionally sneak into the kitchen (or wherever) to make some magic happen.

How are your Christmas/holiday preparations going?  How do you decide what you are going to do this year and what will have to wait? Do you stick to your gift budget?



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