How To Survive Christmas Without Going Broke, or, If Youíre Broke!
The words Christmas and Budget never seem to successfully meld together. People that can afford to do so often go Christmas Crazy when it comes to presents, parties and partying. This behavior is actively encouraged by stores out to make a fast and fat buck, and movie studios hoping to get their share of the Holiday Joy (of spending) before the cards max out and the cash dries up.
Meanwhile, folks that are now in the ranks of the millions of Americans that simply cannot afford to make merry this time around probably feel more than a little left out as they watch everyone else appear to be having lots of fun. Holiday commercials on TV, print ads and web-site pop-ups constantly remind them of their less than desirable situation. Itís outright torture and most of these folks are sure to use their free ticket to get on the guilt or depression trains. Many can barely afford a holiday meal, let alone presents, partying or anything else weíve all come to associate with Christmas.
Letís take a moment to inject some common sense into both these ugly realities. Although most people forget this: Christmas is a religious holiday. Itís all about the birth of Christ. Everything else is just what people in their zeal to enjoy what they can out of life have added on. Before you give in to spending lust or give up to despair, take a moment to consider some practical alternatives to those choices.
If you have always viewed Christmas as the commercial nightmare and perpetual fun-fest that people have turned it into, you are unlikely to find joy in the holiday season whether you spend a fortune or almost nothing on it. Human nature and that book (called the Bible) that started the whole Christmas thing teaches us that holiday joy doesnít come from a surplus or lack of cash. It comes from partaking in the spiritual blessings that are available, at no cost, to everyone that seeks them.
Itís interesting to note that Jesus Christ started his life in the cellar of a barn. He was not born to a wealthy family and, during his earthly ministry, had no permanent home. He knew what it was to be homeless, hungry, disrespected and hated by many, and betrayed by someone close to him. Knowing that just by willing it to be so, he could have lifted himself out of those circumstances makes his life all the more amazing. He endured those things so that he could relate to us and understand the situations we often find ourselves him.
The sufferings of Jesus in life and on the cross for our sins has bought us a wonderful gift in the form of eternal life if we believe on him. It also allows us to enjoy the celebration that the world makes of his birth, regardless of our circumstances. Going to church is one way to celebrate Jesus and keep our sanity in what can sometimes be an insane time of the year. There are many church services, bible studies and other religious events during the Christmas holiday season. Most are free and open to the public.
Take advantage of the opportunities offered by churches and ministries. It may be that the one thing you need to hear to pull you out of the doldrums might be said by a minister or teacher at one of these meetings. Gatherings like these are also a terrific way to interact with other people who can be a source of emotional comfort and spiritual blessing to you. You can also read the story of the birth of Christ for yourself in the Word of God. If you do not have one, most churches will give or loan you a Bible at no cost if you need one. The gospel according to Luke is a great starting point because it fills in some of the blanks about the family of Jesus and his childhood.
Gifts do not have to be physical. If you feel the need to give someone a gift, offer to cook a meal, baby sit, spend some time with someone living alone that needs company, offer a ride to someone without a car, or be a foster care-giver to any one of the many thousands of unwanted dogs and cats filling pet shelters this time of year. Most shelters will provide food and funds for those willing to help these animals for a short period of time.
You cannot spend or party your way to a truly Merry Christmas. You can enjoy the spiritual blessings of the season by partaking in the celebration of the birth of Christ with others who also seek to do so. You can pull yourself out of the holiday blues, no matter what your personal or financial situation is, by concentrating on the real meaning of Christmas. You can live that meaning by seeking the Lord, helping others and being around those who love God and appreciate the birth of their Savior.