By, State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt
It’s that time of year again, Christmas! A time to focus on our fellow man, our family and The Child given to us in a manger. Or is it? Too many it’s a time to spend, spend, spend.
According to NerdWallet, a group that monitors consumer spending habits, “on average, consumers will spend $116 more than last year on their holiday shopping. Of that group, 73 percent will charge their expenses to their credit card, up from 58 percent last year.” This is a concerning shift. When relying on credit, it suggests an increase in debt levels and reveals that consumers are struggling to make payments on time. Is this Christmas?!
The holiday season can be a difficult time of year for so many reasons. It may be family strife, losing a loved one, financial challenges or a nagging case of perfection as we look for that Norman Rockwell Christmas.
I am blessed to have wonderful memories of the Christmas season when our time was the greatest gift and the number of gifts under the tree was not the focus. The value of time and our PRESENCE, not our PRESENTS was the most important. I remember only a few of the wrapped gifts I received as a child. What I remember are the gifts of time. The weekends spent with my Grandma Dot (without my brothers). We wrapped gifts, baked cookies, and she would share the stories of her childhood. As a young girl, I spent hours embroidering monogram handkerchiefs for my Dad, a special gift from me to him. Riding through town with family, hot cocoa in hand, to view the Christmas lights.
We have tried to continue that legacy with our son’s and their families. We write handwritten letters to our grandson’s; they love to receive mail. They bless us with beautiful pictures in return. The new trend is rocks! We paint rocks for them to hide for someone else or save for themselves in their special drawer. Reading a story or putting together a puzzle from the dollar store are special ways to give the gift of time. The value of a gift isn’t the dollar amount associated with it, it’s the heart of the giver and the grace of the receiver.
Let’s use this Christmas season as an opportunity to pull away from the commercialism and give of ourselves. Remember the most important gift of all, The Child lying in a manger. Merry Christmas!