Creating a “Plan A” Christmas in a “Plan B” Economy

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Creating a “Plan A” Christmas in a “Plan B” Economy

Many families will face another slim holiday this year. Savings and retirement accounts languish as the Dow ping pongs from new lows to sporadic highs. Unemployment stares down a generation used to earning its keep but must now reinvent itself to be employable. In unprecedented numbers, families are driving away from mortgages in cars they can no longer afford. This holiday season looks anything but “all is calm, all is bright”. But Christmas has never been about the fluff or the stuff. In fact, the more abundance we have, the less we remember the true meaning of Christmas. If finances are tight for you this year, think of it as an unexpected gift from the giver of every good gift. And prepare to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with those you love and serve others in the spirit of giving. Here are a few tips on how to have a Plan A Christmas in a Plan B Economy:

  1. Be up front and talk to your family about the realities of your financial situation. – Be honest but also remain positive. Even young children can understand that money is tight. Telling them early will help them set reasonable expectations.
  2. Reassure them that you will still be celebrating the holiday but it won’t be just about presents this year. Your excitement about new plans can set the tone for how your family responds.
  3. As you plan your Christmas shopping, set a budget for each child. Ask them to choose one or two gifts that fall within that budget.
  4. In order to make room for the new gifts, have them choose an equal amount of items that are in good condition to give to a charity.
  5. Make sure that you model an attitude of cheerful giving rather than lament the work and money involved to bless others.
  6. In order to let them experience the joy and responsibility of gift giving, have them do chores to earn enough money or handcraft a small but thoughtful gift for each member of their family.
  7. Spend time each evening talking about the way God has blessed your family and culminate the season with several nights of emphasis on God’s greatest gift, Jesus.
  8. Use this time of year to teach and model to your children the joy of giving to others through opportunities to serve in your church and your community.
  9. Keep the spirit of Christmas going by using these service opportunities as a spring board for what your family might do the rest of the year to help others.
  10. When it comes to having a Christ-filled Christmas, lead with your grateful, generous, humble and others oriented attitude.

In economic winters, Plan A for most people is to pull back on giving to the less fortunate and keep what little you have. A better plan is to live more simply, expect less and give more. Let this be a time to get back to the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place. The good news is that the coldest winters set up some of the most abundant spring times. Who knows, this could turn out to be the Christmas your family talks about for a long time.

When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3: 4-7

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