Early August I found myself without a job, which translates to without a paycheck. At the time it was no real issue, as I was confident that I could quickly replace my income stream through one of my many areas of expertise. Come mid-October, however, I began to re-think my optimism. As Thanksgiving came and went it was clear I wasn’t getting a job any time too soon and Christmas might have to be cancelled.
If you’re facing extended unemployment like my family, you know the strains of trying to give your family a nice Christmas and keep up on your bills. Oh, and let’s not forget the strains of making sure we have food on the table day-to-day without adding the unsettling thoughts of Christmas dinner.
Just when I resolved to having no Christmas, a miraculous thing occurred. One late evening I posted a plea to my circle of friends on Facebook to help me create a meal out of bare ingredients… a task that I could not manage on my own. My friends graciously shared menu ideas and my spirits lifted as I read through the recommendations. But that was only the beginning.
One very dear friend of mine decided that helping me prepare a meal was not the only thing she wanted to see. She decided Christmas was coming to my house one way or another. And it was through her generosity that I learned of some very creative ways for families down on their luck to enjoy Christmas, perhaps with a little more appreciation than years past and a realization that the spirit of Christmas comes from within. Here is what I learned from her:
Providing Your Holiday Meal with Help from Local Food Banks
The first thing this friend brought to my attention was the ability to receive food from local food banks. She shared that many local churches provide food banks to help feed needy families in the community and that I should look into them. In my investigations, I found that in addition to regular food distribution these food banks offer holiday-specific food donations to help families put an amazing holiday dinner on the table when possible.
Holiday Support through Local Radio Stations
This recommendation certainly caught me off-guard. I had no idea that radio stations took the time to give donations to families for the holidays. One such radio station here in North Carolina is 94.7 QDR. They have a program set up where families who are struggling and can’t afford Christmas can be listed as a family in need. They have teamed up with Lowe’s and Friends Feeding Friends to provide needy families with good food and gifts wherever possible.
Getting Gifts Through an Amazon Wish List
And finally, to my amazement, she has asked me to put together a wish list of gifts the kids would like to have. She then took this list and teamed up with other friends on Facebook to get each of the gifts the kids had listed. That was the most amazing gift I could have ever imagined. And it occurred to me that others could take advantage of this idea too, even if they don’t have a friend doing the leg work.
If you’re struggling to provide presents for your children, consider putting together an Amazon Wish List; it’s free and easy for others to order your requests as gifts to be sent directly to your door. Be considerate by keeping the gifts under $50 and limit them to five or less per child. Then share that list with your friends and family through email, Facebook, or any other network you have possible. Let them know your situation and you just might find your kids have a Christmas angel out there waiting to buy the things they want.
I know personally that when you’re in the thick of financial struggles it’s not always easy to think of creative ways to give your family Christmas. I hope these three suggestions can turn your holidays from something bleak to something special.
Photo by djdphoto/Flickr