Giving from the Heart may not require Wrapping Paper – but may just be the Perfect Gift for a Single Mom in your Life

I don’t know anyone who isn’t struggling to makes ends-meat these days.  It seems like even in households where two people work full time, the task of having enough is getting more and more difficult.  The cost of everything is rising every few months and when you add the cost of raising children to the equation, having a family budget can feel like it is a next to impossible task!  Sprinkle on top of that all of the hoopla that comes with the Holiday Season and you have a recipe for Stress with a side of Stress!

For Single Moms who face all of the same issues & money battles as a two parent household, this time of year can be downright terrifying & depressing.  Between buying the holiday décor & getting it set up, there is a tree to buy, along with fancy clothes, a menu to prepare, gifts to purchase and the regular monthly bills to pay.  It’s not like there is an extra payday in the month of December that allows for a little “extra spending”, wouldn’t that be nice?  It also is a time of year that memories can be an enemy & depression can creep in to add another stress to this otherwise festive time of year.

Some Single Moms have active participation from the Father of the children, so it takes a bit of the stress off & creates two holiday celebrations for the kids, which is Wonderful.  But for one reason or another most do not have the participation of the Father which adds to the existing guilt & stress that the Single Mom already feels.  It is a tough battle to face.

During my Single Mom Journey this time of year was doubly stressful because my daughter’s birthday was two days after Christmas so I not only had the stress of the Holiday cheer but a birthday party to plan as well.  It was crazy, and money was nonexistent.  I took pride in the fact that I was a Single Mom working full time and providing for my daughter without the co-parenting help I would have loved to have from her father but it was always a struggle which at times made me feel like a failure.  It was an ongoing battle.

My biggest saving grace was that I was blessed with an amazing family with hearts of gold.  No matter what I needed, there they were.  Hammers in hand, bags of groceries, quarts of oil for my car, you name it they jumped in.  They knew I was too proud to ask them for help, but they made sure that I always had the basics and that my daughter never missed out on her celebrations.  I really appreciated all that they did year after year.  Whenever I would say that I felt a bit guilty about accepting their gifts, my Mama would remind me that when a gift is given from the heart, it creates love & joy for both the giver & the receiver.  Mama was a firm believer in the theory of “It Takes a Village”, in life.  Because of what I learned from her unselfish giving, I have always tried to go out of my way to help others in any way possible, even when they don’t ask for the help but are in true need of it.

Pride is a funny thing.  It is one of those emotions that you can’t see but that each of us at one time or another feels it deep inside.  I don’t know much about psychology but I think that pride, well at least my pride, was layered with a  dab of guilt and that is why it was always so hard for me to accept when others would reach out to offer something to my life for the sake of my daughter.

Throughout my life I have always heard that you should never take more in life than you give & as I’ve grown I have found that to be a very helpful & true life Mantra.  It seems to help control the balance of how people act and react to life situations and tends to keep an ego intact.

At some of my difficult times during my Single Mom Journey when I truly had nothing left to give in the way of money or stuff, I was always able to find a way to give of myself in order to help others.  It was amazing to be able to actually help someone just by being there, whether it was to baby-sit for a Single Mom friend so she could run errands or to pitch in & help around the house or maybe to just offer a listening ear, loving heart and strong shoulder to cry on when she was facing something painful.  It sounds a bit corny I know, but it was so uplifting for me to actually be able to contribute positively to the life of another by simply being there.

I realize that in this day and age everyone knows a Single Mom, probably more than one.  A sister, an Aunt, a neighbor, a Co-worker, they are a growing population for sure.  And just like everyone else just because they work hard, don’t complain and smile most of the time it doesn’t mean that they aren’t in need of help.

My suggestion to everyone this Holiday Season is this.  Take a moment to stop and think about that Single Mom that you know.  I mean really stop and think about her life situation.  How many kids does she have, is her car more than 8 years old, does she have a repair at her apartment or house that has been in need of attention but just can’t do it herself?  I’m suggesting that this holiday season you rethink the definition of “gift” and not confine it to a purchased item wrapped in a shiny package with a huge bow but expand the definition to include what you can do to actually help someone in your life.

If the Single Mom in your life is a close friend or relative then sit down and talk with her and tell her that money is tight for you as well but that you want to give her a gift from the heart that allows you to help her in an area which she needs the most and probably would never ask anyone for.  If you present it as a gift that would bring you joy, she is more likely to accept rather than feel guilty.

Maybe you or your husband is a plumber & she has a bathroom sink that isn’t draining, or maybe you are handy around the house and can repair anything, or maybe you have changed your holiday décor/theme this year and have a bunch of ornaments, & trimmings that you don’t need any more that she can use.  The possibilities are endless if you put some thought to it.

Just try to remember that anything that impacts you during the holiday season will also impact the Single Mom.   For example, holiday portraits for the family may be something you have always done, but for a Single Mom to make that happen she needs to purchase dress up clothes for her and her kids, then take them to a local mall studio and then when the photos are done the cost is so high that she can’t afford to buy more than 1 picture.  If you have a nice camera, why not suggest that she get the kids dressed, without buying new stuff, and you can take them to the local mall that is all decked out with Holiday bliss and you can take their picture in front of the décor.  It will be a Holiday background which will look like a professional set up and printing your digital photos will be much easier and cheaper than going to a studio.

Maybe you are one of those amazing coupon people who save mega amounts each month at the grocery store & have an organized garage filled with a stock pile of purchases.  Can you put together a Holiday basket of necessities to trim the big dinner for the Single Mom?  Just the side dishes add up and once you add the ham or turkey the price tag for dinner can be more than she has to spend.  How wonderful would you feel if your generosity wrapped in Love could make someone’s Holiday brighter?

As I said before, I know that everyone is struggling financially these days no matter what their circumstances, and for me, that means that now more than ever it is important if not imperative that we learn to reach out and help one another.  This Circle of Life in which we live comes with the responsibility of not only caring for ourselves but  caring for all humankind.  We all have something that we can share with another which doesn’t come with a price tag.  We all have strengths, talents and life experience that others can benefit from.  If we take the time to find out how we can use those attributes to help another, to me that really is the true spirit of giving.  It may seem easier to run to the store and buy something for someone, but it takes time and heart to look inside to see what you have that you can give to another which comes from inside your heart.

So go on, take a moment & think about how you feel when someone gives you a gift from the heart and how blessed your life has been.  You may be able to give a blessing back to someone in need who wouldn’t ask for anything due to their pride.  Wouldn’t that be the greatest gift of all and a way to teach your family by example?  I’m just saying that it can’t hurt.   So think about it, Please – Thank you.

No matter what you & your family celebrate this time of year, I wish you a house full of family, a heart full of love and much joy & happiness in the coming year.    Torie B.

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