The guilt money can buy
My sisters and I do our best to make Christmas as magical as possiblefor our kids. We strive to recreate the awe we felt coming down earlyon Christmas morning and seeing that mountain of presents under theshimmering tree. In the process we tend to go a bit overboard on gifts.
In the past I've had no qualms buying my nieces and nephews two, three,even sometimes four presents. I've gotten way more than that for my ownkids. And I never stopped there. I also went a bit nuts for thegrown-ups of the family, usually ending my Christmas shopping with aspree at Barnes & Nobles. Since my sisters do the same, the resultis always a tree with a somewhat obscene amount of presents under it.
It's never bothered me in the past, but somehow this year was different. Part of the issue was clearly my relative lack of income. Spending my husband's hard earned money didn't seem quite as right as spending my own. And a huge part of the issue had to do with knowing how many families were going to have to do without this Christmas. It seemed so wrong, and a bit nauseating, to have so much when others were making do with so little.
Every day in December I learned of a new friend, acquaintance, or even complete stranger who had lost a job, defaulted on a loan, or even had just learned that they'd be forced to take unpaid leave over the holidays. People's stories streamed by on Twitter and on FaceBook or other forums. I wanted to reach out and help everyone, but there was nothing I could do on our own somewhat limited income. This year, buying Christmas gifts didn't fill me with the same exhilaration that it has in past years. It really just filled me with guilt.Continued on the next page