Relationship, Wedding & Style


Ask Dr. Faizal
SAW’s Resident Counsellor
Dear Dr. Faizal:
I am a single East Indian mother of three beautiful children. Every
year, I work hard on my full-time job as a financial analyst and parttime
job as a continuing education teacher to save enough money to
celebrate the holiday season with my son and daughters. Every year,
I buy the biggest tree that our living room can hold and surprise my
kids with many presents on Christmas and New Year mornings. A few
months ago, I lost my full-time and part-time jobs, leaving me having
to live off my limited savings and investments. This year, I do not have
the money to spend to have a lavish holiday season for my family. I
would appreciate any suggestions you may have.
- Hope lost this year
Dear Hope,
I applaud you for working hard,
as a single parent, to provide for
your family’s needs. You have been
very fortunate to have celebrated
Christmas and the New Year in the
past in such a “lavish” manner. In
today’s society, most of us have come
to associate one’s love for another by
the price of one’s gift and by the size
of the coniferous tree in one’s living
room. I sense your dismay for not
being in the financial position to give
your family all the material goods that
they’ve been accustomed to receiving
over the years.
You must realize, however, that
all is not “lost,” and that the spirit of
the holiday season has no price tag
associated with it. Instead of spending
your hard-earned money in purchasing expensive gifts,
why not invest in your loved ones and spend some quality
time with them?
Over the years, I have learnt that children like presents,
not usually because of their material worth, but because
of what these gifts may represent to them. To a typical
child, receiving something from a family member
means that the child is loved and cared about. The child
feels validated as someone who matters. This feeling
of importance is not conditional upon the price of the
offering. In fact, the biggest gift your children can receive
from you at this time is your time and creative efforts.
Here are a few suggestions (which I have used at this
time of year with my patients) that I could suggest to you:
1. Instead of buying the “biggest” (and probably most
expensive) tree, you could take a daytrip with your
family to a public park and collect fallen tree branches,
which you could later put together into the shape of a
tree. Not only will you save money, but you will have a
fun day with your family.
2. Once the “tree” has taken shape, have a family tree
decorating party. Make some popcorn to eat and to
string together with a needle and thread as a tree
decoration. You could shred tinfoil to make tinsel and
use craft supplies to create a star for the top of the tree.
3. A nice tradition is having each family member write
special wishes on pieces of coloured paper and scrunch
them up into balls to hang on the tree. You can then
read the wishes — one each morning — throughout the
holiday season.
4. Reading each other’s wishes for the future would be a
gift in itself, but if you want to offer something more,
I recommend each of your family members write a
letter to each other about what the other person means
to him or her. Sharing these letters with each other
over cups of hot chocolate, while bundled up in warm
blankets on a cold winter night would create a level of
intimacy in your household that no gift ever could.
During the past few decades of economic gain,
many have essentially lost the true meaning of Christmas
and the New Year; we have replaced connecting with
loved ones with placing a monetary value on our
relationships with them. Today, in the light of global
economic uncertainty, we have actually been blessed with
the opportunity to recapture the essence of this season,
not with the size of our bank accounts but with the
magnitude of our hearts.