What My Kids Taught Me This Past Christmas

When Claudia couldn't afford to buy her kids Christmas presents, she was crestfallen. But how her kids responded to the news taught her a valuable lesson.

The past few months have been quite difficult for me, but as always, I managed to keep going despite the odds. After all, I’m supposed to be the strong one, the pillar of my family who always finds creative ways to figure things out. However, this time around I couldn’t piece the puzzle together. The clock was ticking and the days were nearing the grandest holiday of all: Christmas time.

I needed to come up with enough money to purchase my children’s Christmas gifts, and I didn’t know how I was going to manifest it. I Googled every possible way of earning a few hundred dollars in a few days. I called pawn shops to inquire if I could pawn some of our electronics. I didn’t dare to tell my children that our bank balance was in the single digits and that they may not receive Christmas gifts this year.

For the past decade, I’ve always worked full time and earned a modest salary. Thus, I managed to gift my children and family members great Christmas presents. My husband and I normally spend between $1,500-$4,000 every holiday on gifts and decorations. We have four children, so we normally purchase 3-5 presents for each one. Additionally, we distribute gifts to our nieces and nephews. However, this Christmas was nothing like the past ones.

Approximately six months ago I resigned from my job to discover and live my purpose. I was eager to start my business and complete my first book. Since then, I worked so hard to bring this dream to life and was hopeful that I was going to launch successfully by November. Sadly, I encountered a few setbacks and unforeseen events that caused a substantial financial strain on my household income.

Nonetheless, our children were estranged from our financial crisis. We’ve always tried to keep them out of what we consider “adult problems” because we felt that they were too young to understand. But two weeks ago (four days before Christmas to be exact), I learned that my children are wise beyond their years.

My husband and I were in tears planning several scenarios of how we could deliver the sad news to our kids. We couldn’t help but wonder how they were going to feel about not receiving their long-awaited presents. It was then that I experienced an “awakening” moment. I told my husband that we needed to tell them the truth, be completely honest and vulnerable. My husband was a bit reluctant at first but agreed to move forward with the plan.

That Thursday night, we looked them straight in their eyes and explained our current financial circumstances. Surprisingly, they were incredibly understanding and even shared some words of wisdom that made us feel much better. But what struck me the most was their rendition of the three words I preached all the time: kindness, patience, and gratitude.

I will never forget what Eli, my 7-year-old, told me shortly after the meeting: “Mom, this year was tough because you are no longer working, but I know that next year will be better. Actually, next year is going to be epic because you will learn from this year’s mistakes.”

We then gave each other a group hug and said how much we love one another. In tears, I smiled and thanked the universe for my blessings.

In that moment, I realized that Christmas is not about all the gifts and material propagandas that we pay so much attention to these days. It’s about unity, peace, love, gratitude, and the relationships we form.

The most beautiful lesson I learned through this experience is that my kids want to spend quality time with mommy and daddy more than they look forward to opening their gifts. As I listened to their input, ideas, and suggestions, I noticed that they too have a voice. Lessons to teach adults and a message to share with others.

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Claudia Vidal

Claudia Vidal is Co-founder and CIO of Hues of Change, a personal development company offering a range of holistic and integrative approaches for men and women who aspire to live in the state of their ultimate life vision. She is also the author of Start Sooner! Find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin.

10 Responses

  1. Olga says:

    Beautiful story, Claudia, on many accounts. Growing up in Russia, most of us were poor and Christmas presents were scarce. But what I can not forgive my parents, is not the lack of presents, but lack of love. Love is what we need!

  2. Carol says:

    Claudia, what a wonderful, heartwarming story. I loved it

  3. This really is a heartwarming story, Claudia. I don’t have kids, but I can definitely relate to the first year of business not going as planned. It’s tough to augment our dreams to include reality, and how wonderful that your family supported you through that shift! It must be wonderful to see the values you treasure become embodied in your kids’ attitudes.

    • Claudia Vidal says:

      You are absolutely right, Vironika. Life is a mystery and only when we learn to live by its natural laws can we enjoy the full benefits available to us. This experience reminded me that sometimes we overthink and even create scenarios that will never happen outside of our minds. My children are the driving force in my reality that inspires me to show up each day! Thank you for allowing me to share this story 🙂

      • You’re so welcome, Claudia! And yes, it’s interesting how reality can surprise us and cleanse away our fears. I have been learning this past year that this is a type of kindness too: trusting other people to be able to handle difficult situations without my help or encouragement. It feels unnatural for me, and even uncompassionate at times, but it’s also nice to get unstuck from my role of protecting others from the painful emotions that can one day turn to wisdom.

  4. Devorah Fox says:

    A lot of folks here had a similar experience. Their finances drained by disaster recovery expenses following Hurricane Harvey, many had no money to spare for gifts. Some were still living in a motel room.

    • Claudia Vidal says:

      Yes, Devorah! These are the unexpected circumstances that at times rock our world. Nevertheless, I’m a big believer that every challenge presents itself to teach us a lesson. I sure learned mine 🙂

  5. Don says:

    Wonderful story, Claudia! It is very heartwarming. May 2018 be your best year yet!

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