Family dynamics

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Christmas as a single mum

Feliz navidad! Christmas can be loaded eh? Loaded with pressure to get on and hang out with family when you normally wouldn't.  To buy and buy presents-a-rama.

For the first couple of years with the girls I wasn't that huge with Christmas. Limited funds and the girls not knowing what day it was "I was like let's go easy on Chrissy". And even last year the girls had a great time with the wrapping paper.

This year I am the opposite of Grinch. I've decorated the Christmas tree with one thousand decorations found at op shops. And in lieu of buying groceries the girls are going to have some delightful presents. A Christmas present to me asides from a chaste peck to the cheek of my celibate self, is using money I paid off on the mortgage to pay off my credit card. See normally I would have taken myself to bed with such news but now I'm just zenning it. Thinking "only three and a half on your credit card after living on $20,000 to $24,000 a year for the past four years Jody? You've done well. Have some Homebrand lemonade with the cans of Heineken your mum left you."

The girls at four and a bit years are very excited about Santa coming. Watching Arthur Christmas was a wonderful build-up. They also got a Christmas card in the mail and the stamp on the card was of baby Jesus and they said that comes from St Mary's - because daycare is where they get their dollop of Christianity training.

Both girls do enthusiasm well. There is a lot of excitement about the little things in life which keeps me real and makes for so many happy times in our whare.

Nearly every day they'll notice Mount Maunganui in the distance and one of them will shout - Mum! "What?" "There's the Mount!" And I say wisely, "yes it is kids, yes it is". So at least I know that if excitement wanes on the day we can go for a drive and I can say "Look over there!" "Where?!" There goes Te Mauao!" And all will be well in our world.

At a playcentre Santa visit last week Diana was upset that she and her sister both got a pink umbrella with a face on it and sticking up ears.
"I don't WANT the same things!" said she of the twin-ergy.

This is good, because this year I am giving them mainly different things. For example, a Spongebob DVD for Wanda, Matilda for Diana. Bless Trade Me.

Christmas can be a hard time of year for blended families. Split parents competing with one another to give the best gifts. One parent having no money for gifts the other having a lot. Who is going to have the kids what time of the day do we exchange the children? Absent parents turning up to play parent on Christmas Day etc.... And a tough time for those on a benefit. Benefits tend to get paid out quite close to each other prior to the New Year then it is quite hard to budget on a small amount until the next benefit comes in.

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I suppose when it comes to Christmas, putting the emphasis on being in the moment can help; and reminding ourselves that while it is a much celebrated time of year, it is ONLY one day of the year.

Being grateful for what we do have - our health perhaps, or the sunny weather, or a smile etc. Without minimising how stressful Christmas can be for some families, looking at it through a child's eyes can help manage the hype and unrealistic expectations and keep things in perspective. Whether they're looking at the Mount, some lollies or at a member of the whanau for a hug, my children's delight in the world is where I'll be December 25th. Merry Christmas Aotearoa!

- © Fairfax NZ News

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