First Person: A Tiny Christmas Is Tailored Toward Creativity

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 | Christmas will not be spectacular this year. My son, Nathan, is 35 years old, but was born mentally disabled, and functions on a 5-year-old level. He believes in Santa Claus and is expecting him to bring a new stereo and an Inspector Gadget costume. That's a couple of hundred bucks, at least.

My 22-year-old daughter, Brandy, also lives at home and she's understanding about her brother and Christmas. When she was in grade school and was told there was no Santa, she came home and demanded the truth. I told her a little about the original Saint Nick and that other people decided to carry on the tradition. Every family has their own Santa, I said: It could be Mom, Dad, or Aunt Linda, but that each family had their own.

Mine is the only income, but I'm a resourceful person. I can give you some tips about having Christmas when you're broke: Call churches; many of them will help with a gift or two. Your local Salvation Army or Goodwill organization will also donate toys, food and clothing. Call friends and trade toys that kids no longer use. Make items yourself; look at a craft store for ideas and supplies. Go to dollar-theme stores, if you have a few bucks, and select some gifts there. Consider thrift-store purchases.

If your child is old enough to know you are Santa, just tell him or her that there's no money this year. If the child believes in Santa, tell him that you were watching the news, and you found out that Santa, like you and many others, is broke this year. Have a lot of family togetherness; play board games and watch movies together. Pop some popcorn and make it the best Christmas that you can. You might want to cry. But keep a good attitude; it will make all the difference.

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