To the parent working overtime to give their kids gifts these holidays

A Caucasian woman is indoors in her living room. There is a Christmas tree in the background. The woman is wearing warm clothing. She is sitting on the couch and looking sad because she is alone on Christmas day.

To the parent working overtime to give their kids gifts these holidays

Your Money

To the parent working overtime to give their kids gifts these holidays

Hey moms. Hey dads.

I don’t have to say the holidays are around the corner. You already know.

You’re not the Grinch. You love seeing your kids’ faces light up with excitement at the thought of presents and hot cocoa.

But you can’t help but add up prices in your head. Your stomach sours with the fear of not being able to provide your little ones with what they so deserve.

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I know you’re working overtime as much as you can to gift to your kids what you may have never had — or maybe what you did have, which makes you feel even more guilty.

And I know that despite you working extra to give your kids more, you feel like you’re giving them less because of all the time spent away from them.

I know the voices in your head telling you what you could and should be doing better are loud and strong and mean and feel so, so real. But stop being so hard on yourself, moms and dads. You don’t deserve that. You are doing the best you can. You deserve nothing but praise.

Whatever inadequacies you’re feeling right now are not justified. They have no place in your life. And your children love you and think of you in high regard, even if they don’t always act accordingly.

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I know this because my mom was the same way.

I didn’t realize how much she sacrificed at the time. All the overtime hours she put in because she wanted to give me the world.

And I appreciated it. I still do.

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But when I think back to Christmas time as a child, I can barely remember the gifts.

I remember waking up to the smell of cinnamon rolls every Dec. 25th morning and my mom’s incessant playing of Kenny G and Mariah Carey holiday music. I remember baking cookies and the few days she let me ditch school to watch movies with her.

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When I think back to my favorite presents, I guess I’d say my Ciara “Goodies” CD and this one headband that I was OBSESSED with.

And the only reason I remember these gifts is because of the experiences that led up to them and occurred as a result of them.

We shopped together for that headband from H&M. She even forced me to pretend to act surprised when I opened it. And I sang along every day to that CD for probably a year. Not to brag, but I still know some of the rap verses.

My point is, the FEELINGS are what your kids will remember, not the materials. They may not realize that yet, but it’s important for you to know.

So please, parents: Stop beating yourselves up.

Your kids certainly wouldn’t want that, and I imagine you’re feeling in need of a break. So allow yourself! Take the day off. Love your kid. Remind yourself and your family that the holidays are about love and gratitude. Those are more valuable than anything money could buy.

And when other kids show off their expensive iPhones, iPads and other cool gadgets, know that the feeling of insufficiency will pass.

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If you can fill the holiday break with quality time together building memories, THAT is what your kids will remember as adults. Not what wish-list item they didn’t get.

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