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When you can’t buy the holiday magic, you build it

Somehow, it seems like we blinked and the holidays are here again. As much as I enjoy the hustle and bustle of all things holly jolly, this year it feels a little different. A little harder. A little more struggle behind the sparkle.

This year, we are much more aware of the fact that we are going to need to build the magic of the holidays, not just buy it.

Something tells me we aren’t the only ones.

RELATED: I Worry about Money All the Time Now

I’m the first to admit, I go overboard. I do it often, but especially when it comes to holidays. In years prior, especially the ones since my daughter was born, spending and splurging never came with hesitation. I don’t mean lavish, over-the-top spending. I just mean careless trips to Target and bottomless Amazon carts.

One red and plaid shirt wasn’t enough, we needed five. We needed weekends jam-packed with overcrowded, overpriced activities because that’s just what you do. Spending the same amount of money on photos with a mall Santa as we would on groceries didn’t seem like an issue. Why make your own Gingerbread house with supplies you already have when you can just toss one in your cart for five times the price because it comes in a cuter package?

But this year, we are facing the harsh reality that so many others are. Things are tight. Things are tough. We are fortunate enough to be in a position where we aren’t completely submerged underwater, but we are starting to feel the pinch. It’s forced us to take a cold, hard look at our habits and spending and all the nitty gritty things we probably should have been doing all along.

Through the endless money talks, one thing has always held true – we wouldn’t let our daughter see us sweat. We wouldn’t take anything away from her we didn’t absolutely have to, especially the magic of Christmas. We will do everything in our power behind the scenes to make it as glimmering and gleeful as it has been for her every other year this far.

RELATED: We Didn’t Have a Lot of Money, But We Had a Lot of Love

This year, it will just take a little extra work from the elves known as Mom and Dad. We will prioritize and prepare better than we ever have before. Because at the end of the day, there are far more important things in life than how many holiday shirts are hanging in a closet or how many Instagram-worthy photos we got this season.

We’ll find the best ways to cut corners and spend smarter.

We’ll search Pinterest for all the craft projects that can be done with random things we already have around the house.

We’ll put our own “splurges” aside and get by on the bare necessities.

We’ll live on pasta and soup and big-batch meals that are perfect for colder weather anyway.

We won’t do all the activities but we’ll find ones that come with a better price tag (or preferably none at all).

We’ll bargain hunt and coupon clip.

We’ll take that leftover Halloween candy and that box of Graham crackers that is permanently on top of our fridge and make DIY Gingerbread houses.

We’ll have extra “movie nights” and a few more trips to look at neighborhood lights with snacks from home.

We’ll make it magical and memorable and merry, no matter what.

RELATED: Your Kids Will Remember How Christmas Felt, Not How it Looked

Because that’s the beauty in all of it that we’ve been too blind or too busy to see all this time. It doesn’t take much. That little girl who is sitting there counting the days until Santa comes doesn’t care about how much money you spend on the holidays.

She cares how you spend your time with her.

She cares about laughing at the same scene from Elf 100 times. She cares about stealing the candy (leftover or not) from the gingerbread house. She cares about the glimmering lights that still make her “ooh” and “ahh” whether they are on a tree you paid $50 to see or the one on the house next door for free.

And sure, she wants to see presents piled under that tree. But she doesn’t know if that doll cost you $2 or $200.

It’s time to let go of all that mama guilt. It’s time to remember the magic of the holidays is really so simple at the end of the day. Don’t buy the holiday magic, build it.

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Megan LaPorta

Hi! I am the mama of a 4-year-old daughter. I have recently made the jump from the corporate world to full-time mom life. I've always had a passion for writing & am so glad to be able to share it!

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