The Christmassiest Christmas ever!

Posted November 24th, 2014 by Penny Wise

Good grief, where to start?! What a hectic few weeks it's been. Overnight I seem to have turned into the stereotypical suburban TV 'mom', working three jobs to put shoes on her children's feet. Not even kidding about the shoes part! Life is busy and there is/has been so much going on I couldn't possibly write it all in one post but hopefully I will get a chance to catch up over the course of the week as some of it is quite special, at least in my mind.

But for now, I must turn my attention to the present! Going out to work has been very good for me, I think. After years of being the eternal cruiser, working from home and doing whatever whenever, I finally have to have some semblance of organisation in my life and get the most out of each precious hour. Turns out I'm actually getting quite good at it too! Mind you, with the crazy hours I work, it would cost me a lot of money if I wasn't organised. I also really appreciate my days off and endeavour to make the most of each one, whereas when I was at home all the time, one day was very much like another. Even the boys have noticed the difference and we all seem to appreciate the times we are all together more. Financially it's still a struggle and will continue to be for some time but we are pottering along quite happily and the main thing is, we are all trying, we are all doing our bit. Liam has got a job as a 'jack of all trades' at a motel in town and is working for a lovely couple and their staff six days a week doing whatever needs doing - groundsman, painting, cleaning the pool, gardening, laundry just to name a few. He's learning heaps, enjoying each challenge and it's a great way for him to learn and become confident in a lot of new domestic skills for when he goes away to uni in February! Ali finished school last week and is about to start his summer job as a waiter and barista in one of the local cafes. The three of us are a little like ships in the night and it's only going to get busier over the next couple of months but the times we do get to see each other is lovely.

It's funny how your mindset can change in the blink of an eye. This time a couple of weeks ago I had decided we wouldn't be having Christmas this year. I was feeling so hopeless, so despondent and a terrible parent and provider. How could I give my beloved boys a decent Christmas when there is no money in the kitty for presents or even for a decent Christmas dinner? What changed my mind? That's a whole other blog and one I intend to share soon but all of a sudden I realised that it didn't matter if we didn't have many presents. It didn't matter if we didn't have a traditional Christmas dinner. We could eat what the heck we liked! The important thing was that we had each other and that we had FUN. One of my favourite Simple Savings newsletters ever is from a few years back and talks about creating the perfect Christmas, how it is all about the festive atmosphere, the sounds and the smells. I realised we didn't need money to have all that; we already have everything we need! We have the tree, we have the decorations, we have the lights, we have the oranges and cloves, the angel and Christmas tree biscuit cutters to make shortbread and the hideous but hilarious array of corny Christmas CD's. These are the things which make Christmas Christmassy, not the presents! So what if we can't afford a traditional dinner; we'll cook a barbecue instead and all be chefs, it will be way more fun! This year is Liam's last official 'kid Christmas at home' and I'm determined to make it the best one ever! If anyone has any ideas they would like to share to help us make our 'low cost or no cost' Christmas extra special, please let us know!

I'm even getting organised with presents and have a couple stashed away already, which is unheard of for me! I also have set a budget and am sticking to it - well, I have to really, when it's gone it's gone and there's nothing else! But I think the boys will be happy. Apart from one ridiculously impractical gift for Liam, which I know he will love and have pride of place in his room at uni, everything else is things they either need or can use. Now they're young adults that's the way they like it anyway; their days of having rooms and shelves full of meaningless 'stuff' are long gone. Even Liam's Christmas 'stocking' has a use! I wasn't going to do stockings this year but then I spotted someone selling steel Corona (beer) buckets for $2.50 on our Facebook Buy and Sell page and I thought I would fill it with goodies and it would make a rather stylish rubbish bin for his room at uni!

We have a family wishlist for things we want or need which we pin up in the kitchen and have been having a good chuckle at the things listed on it. Far from being extravagant or whimsical we have things such as 'NEW TOWELS!' (almost all of ours are worn into holes, I will definitely have to get Liam some more presentable ones to take away with him!) 'NEW FRYING PAN!' (we hate our frying pan with a passion; for some reason these days any food you attempt to cook in it refuses to stay in the middle and rolls or puddles around the outside. Makes for some very interesting shaped fried eggs I can tell you!), 'NEW BULB FOR SECURITY LIGHT' (at $18 a pop we never seem to find it important enough to replace) and my personal favourite 'FIX THE LEAKY BATH TAP!' What an exciting bunch of crazy kids we are!

I guess we do at least have our photo board, which is one fun family project we want to work on for Christmas and will cost very little. These days when everyone has cameras on their phones, everyone is always busy snapping potshots of everything from hilarious photos of each other to endearing pics of family pets and goodness knows what else. Some of these can be classics or truly beautiful but they rarely make it off the phones to be enjoyed anywhere and by anyone other than the photographer. On looking through our phones last week the boys and I realised we had amassed a wonderful collection and decided we needed somewhere to display them. A friend of mine was giving away a huge pinboard for free on (where else!) Facebook Buy and Sell and I signed up to an online photo printing store who were giving away 40 free prints just for signing up. Now all we have to do is choose our 40 prints and wait for them to be delivered. Putting them all together with the boys is going to be fun! I'm also going to check out the op shops for board games and puzzles we can do together and Liam is excitedly downloading karaoke songs on his Playstation. Last time we played Singstar together the boys' voices hadn't even broken! I can't wait to hear the difference when they attempt to sing the same songs from over a decade ago, I have a feeling it's going to be hilarious!

Who knows what else Christmas Day is going to bring but at least now I'm totally relaxed about it. We have nobody to please or impress except each other and because of that I am finally going to get the opportunity to do something I have always wanted to do. Every year our local Lions Club organises an enormous Christmas dinner at the club where I work for those who are less fortunate or on their own. I've always wanted to volunteer my time on Christmas Day to help someone else enjoy the kind of Christmases I was lucky enough to grow up with and this year I've put my hand up to help out. If the boys are not visiting their dad they'll be coming along too. I can't think of a more Christmassy thing to do!

For the next few months at least, life is only going to get busier, so I apologise in advance if blogs are a little few and far between! Should you have a burning desire to know what is going on in the chaotic world of the Wise clan, you are very welcome to follow the 'real me' on Facebook (hint: it's the same name as on the $21 Challenge book). Otherwise I shall attempt to bring everyone up to date on all the news here soon!

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