Like everything else in 2020, Christmas will be a lot different this year for everyone. We live in southern Utah and have family in northern Utah and in Colorado. Both are about 400 miles away. Trying to arrange visits or gift exchanges with both families is a challenge.
A lot depends on the weather. We don’t have an all-wheel-drive vehicle that requires snow tires, or chains. So driving north is not an option if the weather is bad. All we can do is wait and see the forecast. Utah does a great job of clearing the roads, but if it’s severe, they require all-wheel drive or snow tires to cross the several mountain passes north of us.
We got lucky last year, and the weather cooperated when we went to my son’s home in northern Utah. We got up there and back during a lull in the weather. Our daughter, who now lives in Grand Junction, and her husband are visiting us before Christmas. This is their first Christmas living in the west. They may try to visit up north with us at Christmas— again, depending on the weather.
While weather is a challenge, a bigger one confronts us. Our son and his wife have seven children between them. And, their children all have children, which means we have 12 great-grandkids. We live on a pretty tight retirement income, and trying to buy gifts for all the little ones is a challenge. We always do something reasonable for the grandkids as a family effort. However, with all the little ones on the scene now, we have to adapt our gift-giving in that direction. If they were older, we could get away with a small cash gift.
We’ve been sending my son a large ham for the family since 1998, which was fine when there weren’t that many mouths to satisfy. We’re sending a ham again this year, but the portions will be smaller for everyone.
Christmas Eve at our son’s is a big celebration, complete with a Santa and his elves. All the little ones gather around and receive several—make that a lot of gifts from the big Santa bag. It may be a little over the top, but that’s our son’s tradition. We have found a small gift for the little ones to add to the Santa bag again this year, but it adds up pretty quickly when you’re buying that many gifts.
The holidays are stressful for everyone. Adding the pressure of pleasing so many people only adds to the problem. We’re prepared for this year, but my wife and I will sit down and have a serious discussion with the grandkids about what we do in the coming years. We both agree something has to change.
We’re going to have to tell the grandkids that we’ve reached the end of the line— and our budget going forward for Christmas. Like many grandparents, we are rapidly approaching a time when we won’t be able to provide gifts for everyone. The only presents they may receive will be our presence. But maybe that’s enough?
– Ryan from St. George, Utah, a FAR customer who is finding purpose in this new stage of his life.
* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Finance of America Reverse (LLC).