First Person: Surviving the 'I Can't Afford Christmas' Talk with Your Kids

Yahoo Contributor Network

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 | It's heartbreaking, trying to find words to explain to a child that the Christmas gift he so desperately wants is too expensive.

With new video game and system releases just in time for the holidays, electronics stores are mobbed with parents buying their children the new WiiU system or the latest Halo or Call of Duty games. My 8- and 10-year-old sons, Coby and Lucas, are no different than these children, except for one catch: I can't afford to buy them the $50 games or $300 system that all of their friends will be receiving on Christmas.

My boys are well aware that money is tight in our family. For the last few years, they've expected very little on Christmas, and I've tried my best to give them everything I can, regardless. In Christmases past, they've received maybe one video game each, jackets and some soccer or baseball gear.

I have two boys who deserve the world yet receive next to nothing.

This year, unfortunately, money is scarcer than ever for us in Hartford, Conn. I've found myself surfing aimlessly through Cyber Monday deals with false hope that free games will suddenly appear on Amazon, or that my backyard will suddenly be overrun by money trees.

This year I sat down with them to discuss money. I ripped the band-aid off, immediately telling them that I simply can't afford to get them the gifts they want this year. I braced myself for whining and screaming. Instead, it was worse. My boys hugged me, and told me they didn't need anything, making it even more difficult for me.

This year I've decided to make them each a quilt of their old t-shirts. I finally realized the too-small Yankees, Packers, concert and Halo shirts that have been packed away in my basement for months would make an awesome gift.

If I could, I would give my guys everything they wanted. Regardless, I think they are going to love a homemade gift; no matter how much money you may have, the love and effort put into something like this is incomparable.

My sons and I truly appreciate the meaning of Christmas. It isn't about gifts. We all love to give and receive, of course, but if we can't, it doesn't matter. We have one another to attend midnight mass with and chow down on delicious ham with, and we could not ask for more this holiday season, as hard as it may be.

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