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Dear Webby
Can't afford Christmas Gifts

Dear Webby,

I love the spirit of the Christmas season but my family has so many wants and needs. I hate to read the ads; everything I see I have someone who would really enjoy it.

The problem is my pocket book. Money is limited. I have many gifts to buy outside the home and four children with lists the length of my arm.

Want to give but broke

Dear Want to give,

Webby is convinced that no holiday or gift can live up to the image that Madison Avenue portrays for us. The previous writer had the cash but didn't know what to buy. Maybe you two should get together.

Sit down today, yes today, before the lists and expectations get any longer, with your children. Be honest. Explain to them that money is tight but that you want this to be a very special Christmas. Ask them to cut the present list down to the length of your hand.

Talk about everything connected to the season that you can do together. Can they get involved with making decorations, baking cookies, wrapping gifts (in the comic strips)?

You know all the things that makes the holidays special - besides spending money. How about a night to carol in the neighborhood?

Maybe a holiday party where they can invite friends and string popcorn. They may prefer watching the Christmas stories on television together and eating the popcorn instead. Drive around and enjoy the lights around town.

Ask your children to help you with the outsider gifts. Remind them it is better to give than receive (yeah, yeah). Really it is. Maybe some time visiting a shelter or others in need will help convince them and remind them how lucky they are.

Also sit down with the other people with whom you exchange gifts. Maybe they would be happy to share a lunch with you or some of your homemade cookies.

Some people we buy for just because we always did. Let them know you are cutting down on shopping this year (they might be very happy to cut down too). It doesn't mean you don't care about them. You have a special place in your heart for them and that is why you decided to concentrate on the real meaning of Christmas this year.

What ever you do, do not go into deep debt to finance the holidays. Family and friends will understand. Your job is not to support the businesses with their clever ads.

Gifts should be mostly about the children. They are your first concern. The co-worker will soon forget the box of candy but the children should never forget the wonderful Christmas season. If you make God and family the center of your holidays, how can it not be a merry one?

Remember the true reason for the season. It's not just a bumper sticker, it's a fact. Try it. Your family and friends may pleasantly surprise you.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays


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