I’ve always loved the holidays. I love cooking, baking, decorating, and especially our annual trip home to Cleveland for Christmas. The first time we traveled there together in 2016 was the first time my now-husband met my family and also the day he proposed to me, so now it’s a tradition. As wonderful as it all is, though, it’s stressful too because there’s never enough time or money and December is always the most financially straining month of the year.
Let’s face it, the average month is hectic and paycheck-to-paycheck for my lower middle class family, even though my husband and I both work really hard. When you take our normal monthly expenses and add in gifts for family and friends (and I mean even small inexpensive gifts), the tree (and no, having a real tree is non-negotiable because fuck fake Christmas trees), baking supplies, cards, postage to send cards, and travel expenses to see my family/friends up in Ohio, we’re left with a lot of month at the end of our money.
This year is especially tight as I’m trying to find another contract gig to add to my stack while also working the ones I have, and we’re saving as much as we can towards our goal of becoming homeowners next year. We’re grocery shopping like college kids; buying ramen, spaghetti-o’s, and cheap frozen pizzas. Even though it’s getting down into the mid-30’s at night, we’re not turning the heat on until it’s unbearable. We have extra hoodies/blankets to bundle up in, and a high electric bill will only make the situation worse. It’s crunch time, holidays style!
So my dear friends and family, when you don’t get an expensive gift from us, it’s not because we don’t love you. It’s because we really don’t want to be homeless and we can’t even afford expensive stuff for ourselves. If you’re in Ohio, the gift is mostly that we took off of work and drove 10 hours each way to see you and wish you a Merry Christmas. Trust me, that’s not an easy feat for us, but it’s worth it to see our Ohio folks that we only see once a year.