Yahoo asked parents who are struggling financially to share how they cope with little to no money over the Christmas holidays: What do they tell their children when they can't give them the gifts they asked for? How do their children respond? Here's one parent's story.
FIRST PERSON | We did not put up the Christmas tree again this year. My children are used to it now. For the past few years, Benjamin and Ronald, 11 and 9, have known not to get too excited about Santa.
Since I lost my job at a major retailer in 2009, Diana (my wife of 15 years) and I have tried to scrape up enough money for the children's gifts every year. Usually we can swing at least one or two gifts for each. But it is difficult on a limited budget.
In the past, we had help via a monthly welfare check. But now that help has run out. We have only Ben's SSI check and the rent that my older son Joseph, 22, pays. I have a part-time job working as a cashier, but even that job is difficult for me because of my back problems. With all three steams of income, we are still barely making ends meet.
Ben, who has Asperger's syndrome, has asked me for a violin for Christmas. He is learning how to play it during his after-school program. I found one for $39 online, but so far I have not been able to come up with the money. My other son wants an iPod or an Android tablet. Truth is, I would like to give each of them a tablet, but at $49.99 each, the cost is prohibitive.
I have told both children that Santa brings the presents, but the mommies and daddies must give him the money for the presents first. This way they are aware that they must work for what they have and not to expect a free handout.
When he mentioned the violin, Benjamin told me that he hoped we could come up with the money for one, but that he would understand it if we couldn't. They know that times have been hard. They know that we have not been able to pay Santa very much this year.
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