I spent Christmas away from town-for the first time
This holiday season I want to leave you with something to really think about. It’s no secret the cost of living is leaps and bounds from what it was two years ago. It’s almost daily that I hear of people who are struggling and having to cut back more than ever. I recently spoke with a woman who was dealing with having to make the painful decision of choosing between putting gas in her car, so she could drive to work or buy food for her children. I cannot even imagine having to make that difficult choice and it breaks my heart because I know her personally. She has the same job she has had and was able to provide for her family with no problem, but now with everything skyrocketing, her life looks very different. Even worse, what I just described to you about my friend is happening to so many people. If you are on social media, I am sure you are seeing a lot of what I am talking about as well. Every day I see different people asking for prayers because they are trying to navigate these troubling times.
On top of struggling with the day to day bills, there is the added stress of gift buying for the holiday, especially if you are a parent. If you are reading this and agreeing with me, I’m here to tell you that it’s OK to not be OK. You do not have to have everything “perfect” for your children. What is perfection anyway? I guarantee you, every single one of us who end up reading this will have a different answer. Please don’t beat yourself up or feel less than if you can’t do what you normally would or what you feel you should. If you find yourself comparing your life to others, especially with what you see on social media, please keep in mind that most people only post the “perfection” they want you to see. This may come as a shock, but the happiest people online are usually the ones who are the most miserable in real life.
That being said, this is the first year I will not be in Hammonton for Christmas. Although we officially moved early last year, we came back for Christmas to spend it with my mother and brother. For the past 15 years it was always the same routine. My brother, Anthony, would come over at 5 a.m. (sometimes earlier) to be there when my kids woke up so he could see their half-sleepy/smiling faces. He always enjoyed watching them open their gifts. He especially enjoyed watching my littlest one in recent years, because she is at an age where EVERYTHING is exciting…even the wrapping paper. My Mom and Stepfather Donnie always joined us around 8 a.m. and we would all eat breakfast together. I’m going to miss being with them this year so much. Looking back it’s not the presents that stick out for me, it’s spending time with them. I can’t tell you what I bought my kids last year or the year before, but I can tell you that my brother and I got into a heated debate about juggling and the next thing you know we were using oranges to compete to see who could do it the best. I’m going to go ahead and say that it was me, because he isn’t here to stop me or tell the truth! We also—for the first time ever—played Operation together and let me just tell you, I almost peed myself laughing because he was absolutely horrible at it. Moments like that are what I’m going to miss most this year.
So no matter how you spend your time this holiday season, know that it will be special, not because of the gifts that you bought, but because of the memories you will be making together. I know it may not seem like it now, but your kids will remember the time you spent with them, not the money you spent on them.
I wish you peace, comfort and a joyous holiday, followed by a Happy New Year!
Kasi DeStefano was a longtime resident of Hammonton. She now lives in Florida with her husband Steve, two daughters and two dogs, Pepper and Moo. She can be reached at email@example.com.