The Holiday Borrowing Risk List
Ch. 1 Do Better Than Borrowing
Whichever holiday you’re celebrating, it’s likely that you’ll feel tempted to spend money to do it. But if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, or just don’t have the cash on hand to throw the party or buy the gifts you want, we’d encourage you to think of ways beyond spending to make this season matter for you and your loved ones.
So before we get into the dos and don’ts (spoilers: they’re mostly don’ts) of holiday borrowing, we reached out to financial and lifestyle expert AdaPia d’Errico for her take on holiday financial responsibility.
|Advice from AdaPia D’Errico (@adapia): |
The Gift of Presence
Christmas is my family’s favorite holiday. It always has been. Since I can remember, my parents, my sisters and I would prepare for the big day as early as possible. Trimming the tree, decorating the house, baking cookies and getting into those little chocolate countdown calendar windows. We loved wrapping presents and setting gifts for each other under the tree.
There’s one Christmas in particular that I’ll always remember. When I was 14, right before the school year started, our family moved across the country and my parents didn’t have steady income. At first, nothing about this Christmas seemed different than the other years. We set up the tree in our new living room in early December and me and my sisters were our usual, excited, chocolate-eating selves all month.
On Christmas morning, we ran out to the living room to see what gifts my parents laid out the night before, still tagging them ‘From: Santa’. What we saw wasn’t what we expected. There weren’t that many gifts from Santa. The tree, the room … felt almost empty. We were visibly disappointed. I remember feeling miffed and even angry.
While my sisters sorted the gifts, I glanced back toward the hallway. I saw my Mom crying into my Father’s arms. This is not how they wanted our first Christmas in our new home to be. They didn’t want us to feel like we couldn’t have what we wanted. That they couldn’t give us what they had been able to give us before. That they had disappointed us, on such a special and meaningful day. My heart sank.
My Dad said something to my Mom. She nodded. She wiped her tears, turned toward the living room, and with a big, heartfelt smile and a red nose, came onto the scene to wish us Merry Christmas. Then, she did what she always does: cracked open some mandarins to snack on while we started our Christmas day together, chatting excitedly and sharing hugs and kisses for our gifts. There weren’t many, but it didn’t matter.
We carried on with our traditions, with the things we loved most about this holiday: preparing a big Christmas lunch together (we’re an Italian family!), watching movies in the afternoon, playing games, munching on sweets, heading outside to play in the snow with the dogs, then getting right back to preparing our Christmas dinner, watching more movies and eating panettone. This is our Christmas. Every year. And we love it the same, no matter what’s under the tree.
Our holidays, and the meaning of the holidays, run deeper than the gifts we unwrap.
That year, my parents made a difficult choice. A choice that had uncomfortable emotional consequences. But after that moment of disappointment and sadness passed, we still had our family and the traditions that kept us looking forward to this time of year, every year. My parents also showed us that they weren’t going to let presents ruin family tradition and a special when we truly all hang out together—being there with each other, being present, and being a family.
This year, what can you do to give the gift of presence? Your presence. To really be present with family and loved ones. To enjoy the moments and the nuances. To know you’re making memories. To feel the energy, the warmth, and the love. To remember why you celebrate.
What if the physical gift became less important? What if the meaning of Christmas is more about being with family and loved ones, enjoying traditions, having fun, and creating experiences? What would you do if you decided that this Christmas is going to be about less presents and more presence?