Our Holiday Season This Year

As the holiday season is wrapping up, I wanted to reflect upon how it was for our family this year and what we did. December is such an awesome time of year with so many holidays, some for pretty much everyone, no matter what religion you are, and even if you don't celebrate any religion, with the holiday spirit in the air and the beautiful lights and happiness all around, it is still amazing. So I just wanted to stay Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukka, Happy Kwanza, Happy Solstice, Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays, whatever else you celebrate. I hope any time off you had was meaningful and spent with people whose company you enjoy.

I think more important than any gift is time spent with people we love. Money is a little tighter because of being a single mom, so my children didn't get loads of gifts this year. Instead, I tried to spend as much time with them as I could, making memories.

Fortunately certain types of public transportation in my area are currently free for a trial period, so my kids and I traveled to a relatively far part of my region and then while there I splurged on cable car rides to a scenic area and we ate out.

We went to a few holiday parties, some specifically for single moms and their kids, and it was really nice for my kids to meet other kids in their situation and for me to meet other moms like myself.

My one gift that I got for my children was a gift together with an experience. We went away to someone's home that had a piano, and I saw just how much my kids enjoyed trying out and using their piano. Therefore, upon discussion with the kids, it was agreed that I'd be purchasing an electronic keyboard with a stand for our home, and giving the kids piano lessons. It was a little pricey, but as it is something for the entire family and just one gift, I decided it was worth it.
Since I purchased it, I've started teaching my kids how to play it, something that was a meaningful part of my childhood, and I see just how happy it makes the kids to be able to turn notes on a paper into beautiful music. Every single one of my kids has gotten hooked on to it, and best of all, its reminding me of that fun time from my childhood, and is bringing such joy into our lives.
I'm very glad I decided to get them that.

Anneliese had her seventh birthday during this time, and I haven't gotten around to making a birthday party for her at home, but she did have a birthday party in school.

Since people often are looking for fun activities to do with their families during school breaks, I tried to take advantage of that and I taught a bunch of foraging classes to many different groups of people in many different cities. My kids came to most of them and had fun being my special helpers.

In the evenings after my teaching classes, we came home and did fun activities together, like making pizza together, game night, family movie night, etc. Not much money spent, but still a great time.

Another thing we did together was a lot of decluttering. I've come to terms with my having a newly larger body and no longer need so much of my clothing that doesn't fit me anymore. It also took a long time to finally become winter, and I got around to taking out all our winter clothing and putting away our summer stuff. While doing that, we sorted out things that were too small and outgrown and thing that aren't to our taste so we won't be wearing. We now have many bags of clothing that are now just sitting in our storage that I want to be giving away.
A friend was selling a bed with a trundle bed underneath very cheaply, so we replaced the bed in our guest room (which Lee has claimed as his own when we don't have guests) with that pull out bed. It also meant that all the things that were stored under the bed now needed new homes or to be trashed. And the old bed, that I had to break to remove from the room, is now sitting in our front yard. Without a car and/or a second adult to help me move this stuff, I really wish we had something like the junk haul away service in Denver, only local, to help me get rid of all these things.
I posted about clothes to give away on our local listserv, but no one came yet to pick up things, which means that even though I decluttered, my house and yard still feels too cluttered...

And of course, the other thing my life has been filled to the brim with has been all divorce related meetings, proceedings, etc.

This definitely has not been the typical holiday season. Doing things as a single mom leaves you exhausted, especially when you need to work during this time period, instead of just taking it easy and having off like so many others. And with all the stresses, it isn't easy to feel in the holiday spirit, but I have tried my best to have my "game face" on and not let my children into whatever stress I've been feeling. And I think I succeeded. My children all said that their holiday was wonderful.


How were your holidays? What special things did you do? Did you exchange gifts, and if so, to how many people? Did you feel pressure to give gifts to people, or are you able to get away with just spending time together and making memories, without spending money?

See my disclaimer.

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I'm a huge believer in experiential gifts. Those memories last way longer than things! I love that your kids are into the piano - I played my whole life and still own my childhood piano, which my parents gifted to me as an adult. I'm sorry that your holiday time is also mired in the divorce proceedings. I know that can be rough. Is the kids' dad active in their lives? Maybe when they are with him, you can get a little bit of self-time!

  2. Financially we had a really trying year this byear so Christmas for us was similar. Not many gifts but we hung out, played games, watched movies, and my kids declares it the best Chrsitmas ever anyway.

  3. Season Greetings. Glad you had a memorable Christmas with your family. I had to work the holiday season (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years) so I made extra $$ instead of being with family and friends. For my in-law family I requested a $20 limit on gifts since money is tight for everyone this year (lost company, retirements, etc.) And I didn't give gifts to the kids (ages 16-23) since they are grown, don't exchange gifts yet and the youngest one got arrested. My company has a wellness rewards program and I was able to use the $260 I earned for exercising by exchanging them into $225 in Walmart gift cards. In the end, I didn't spend much actual money at all. Hubby wanted shoes so I got the Amazon credit card which offered $50 in a discount and was able to pickup his Nike shoes for $40 instead of $90. Sweet huh?
    I love giving gifts, especially when I know it's something the receiver will love. This year I'm building up my TopCashBack and Ibotta cash back account (so far $160 for both) for next years Christmas. Think I'm doing good.
    With the extra holiday pay I earned, I'm paying down my credit card I got last year to pay for a HVAC unit.
    Good Christmas over all. Love your blog, keep 'em coming.

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