Help For The Holidays

by Lisa Tyler ©2007



There are some things in life that you can’t do anything about.  The rain is going to fall, the day is going to turn into night, and Christmas is only days away.


I’m the kind of person who loves to give gifts.  There is nothing I’d like more than to be able to sneak into stranger’s yards while they sleep and hang money from their tree limbs to find in the morning.  I love making crafts to give and helping people pay bills.  It’s a joy to put money in the little red buckets of the Salvation Army bell ringers. 


I’ve only got one problem.  Like the Apostle who said “Silver and Gold have I none…” I have to find a way to bless others and help my family at Christmas without relying on cash.


As a pastor and counselor, I receive many emails and calls from people who are in need, and this year seems to be getting worse than most.  Several families are at their absolute financial crisis levels or suffering from massive autoimmune disorders (like fibro and rheumatoid arthritis, even diabetes and cancer).  These are people like you and me, hard working, usually stable, but with burdens that are just too great for anyone to bear alone.


If you find yourself among them this year, and the trappings of Christmas are causing you anguish because your paycheck doesn’t stretch from December 1st to “cha-ching”, I may have some suggestions to help you. 


If you are one of those families who are in a financial or medical crisis, I may be able to point you to resources that can fill in the gaps until you can get on your feet again.  See “What to do right now if you’re broke and in need” for ways to find cash help and steps to take to get things back under control quickly.   (You can right click on the links and open them in a new window, so you can finish reading this website for more things you need.)


See “Why is this happening to us?  Spiritual and practical strategies for surviving and overcoming the times we live in” for a very in depth look at adapting to the new rules of how things work in the spiritual world. 


Meanwhile, you’ve got to deal with this holiday beast of expectations.  Yes, I know, every year there were so many presents, how can you suddenly change to one or even none?  You worry the family won’t understand, and your relatives and co-workers have already brought you gifts that you feel obligated to pay back in kind.


Been there, done that!  I’ve been there and survived to be a wiser person, though my heart still longs to give beyond my means.  I’ve spent years gathering crafts ideas of things to make that would be acceptable gifts and I’ve listed 55 of so of them at the link below called Holiday Craft Gifts. 


Here are some strategies to help with converting your Christmas crisis into peace and sanity.


1.  Let your family know that this year you want to start some new traditions.  If you choose, you can tell them you don’t have enough money, but why even worry them?  Use that as a last resort if your older kids insist on expensive presents.


When we were little (and mom was broke), she sat us down to help make our own Christmas presents.  She sewed us bean bags and we poured in the beans and then had huge fun for weeks tossing them around!  She used red corduroy material, (probably scavenged from old clothing) and we felt blessed to be able to help create our own Christmas.


Understand that not having disposable cash to buy more THINGS with doesn’t make you poor, a bad person or your holidays any less wonderful.  THINGS and Christmas don’t HAVE to go together.  You can be a frugal mom, or an earth loving “green” mom, or a deeply spiritual mom, and reinvent yourself and the holiday.


ANY thing that you value or decide to place value on, can be a gift and you can give a gift to everyone you meet.  Bless them with a prayer, a kind word, a smile, or a piece of paper with your favorite Bible verse or a photocopied image of Christ.


With cash you can make donations in someone’s name, name a star after them or go cashless with the following ideas:  regift – give away things you’ve already got, hand out old photos amongst the family, write a poem or story for someone, help someone with a household chore at some date in the future, give a foot massage, wash a car, or help someone plant a garden soon.


2.  Holidays are made special by memories and no thing you can buy will do it for them.  It’s the time you spend with your loved ones that will create memories, and the part of yourself (your past history, or your knowledge) that you can give them will last them way beyond your physical years on earth.


Teach your children how to do something wonderful and new.  Share with them your secrets and the things you’ve learned or experienced throughout the years.  Maybe they never heard about your week at Woodstock, or that you protested the war, or how your mom or dad lived that meant so much to you.


Personally, I’m studying how to do macramé so I can teach my granddaughters a skill to keep them busy this year.


Hint:  Children can give a gift to their parents of teaching them how to use a computer (better, or at all.)


3.  If you haven’t found out by now, learn that everything you want to know or learn can be found somewhere on the Internet.  Instructions, patterns, books, and help from many different agencies, can be found online if you know how to use the search engines. is only one of them, and every search engine will yield you new results when you type in the same query.


Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of data being presented to you.  It may say 150,000 results for your search, but the first two or three pages will be the most relevant.  Check out a couple of pages in each search engine, and keep looking.


Know how to frame your request.  Much like the way you learned to search for a library book, (by name and author etc.)  For the Internet, you first type the most general word then follow it by a comma and then another defining word, and another comma etc.


Examples:  “Crafts, sewing, patterns, free”, or “Guitar, online tutorials, lessons, sheet music, how to play” .


4.  Nobody anywhere can dictate to you what a holiday means to you, or if you even have to celebrate one.  No one can criticize you for being different.  Although they MAY try, you can know in your heart that throughout history, the people who followed a different path and were the rebels, created the changes that moved the world.


The sheep who follow and do the same things year after year never get their names in the history books. 


Dare to be who you ARE, not who somebody wants you to be, or even who you think you SHOULD be.


Dare to make it a spiritual Christmas, serve God and find the real meaning of any holiday to your family.


Hint:  If you’ve criticized someone in the past for being different, you can apologize and decide that from now on, you’ll accept and celebrate everyone, just as they are! 


5.  A peaceful, smooth running home with love and acceptance is more valuable than all the gold in Fort Knox or approval of the Pope.  These are so rare and the children they produce so profoundly powerful, that you should strive to provide these things before any material thing.


It won’t matter one bit if your child has a cell phone or a four wheeler.  (In our days it was a pony or a bicycle.) 


It WILL matter if they have been SHOWN that they are wonderful just the way they are.  Accepting them, celebrating their talents, assuring them that even if they don’t have ANY great talents that are obvious now, they are still valuable and loved members of the home and society – THAT will mean everything to them when they have to make it in this world.


THAT will change this world!


God bless you and have a wonderfully unique holiday!