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Why Christmas Is So Hard as a Single Parent

I Can Barely Afford Christmas Presents For My Daughter — and I'm Happier That Way

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I swear I'm not the Grinch. but this year, a small part of me has been dreading Christmas. As a single mom who works part-time from home, my 2-year-old daughter and I are living at my mom's house until I can save enough money to get back on my feet. My job as a work-from-home mom is fulfilling, and I do what I love, but daycare, activities, cable, internet, food, and clothes are pretty expensive — and doing it all on just one salary doesn't leave a lot of money left over for Christmas presents.

I might not be able to get her everything on her list this year, but so what? I still have a daughter who is healthy, happy, smart, and funny.
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When she was a baby, it wasn't bad. But my now very vocal and very imaginative 2-year-old obviously believes in Santa and already worships the ground he walks on. You better believe she's made her Christmas list known to me. And I can guarantee you, she's checked it way more than twice. "Maybe Santa will get it for me," she always suggests with a little hopeful smile when we pass a toy in Target.

After crunching the numbers, I knew my daughter wouldn't be getting a plentiful pile of presents under the tree this year. Maybe one or two at most. As my bank account dwindled, so did my dreams of giving my daughter the full Christmas experience. At first, I panicked. Then I worried. I got sucked into the black abyss that is mom guilt and furiously searched the internet for the best upcoming deals. Then I crunched the numbers again.

When my pity party was over, I started thinking of all the things I still had to be happy about. I might not be able to get her everything on her list this year, but so what? I still have a daughter who is healthy, happy, smart, and funny. I still have a roof over my head and food to eat. I still get to spend Christmas with my family.

I started to replace her Christmas list of toys with fun Christmas activities and experiences we can do together instead. Building snowmen, taking sleigh rides, making paper snowflakes, drinking hot chocolate, baking cookies, watching Christmas movies, singing Christmas songs, decorating the tree . . . the list goes on and on. And most of them don't cost anything but a little one-on-one time and love.

I hope my daughter will always love making memories like this with me during Christmas and won't feel disappointed. I know it's been my favorite gift so far.

Image Source: Taylor Murphy
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