by Beth Ann Morgan

The holidays can prove stressful without the added dimension of crisis. When it comes to shopping for gifts, making sure your family has all the bases covered can overwhelm you to the point of creating an incredibly difficult situation.

I remember staying in the hospital with Hannah as an infant over Valentine’s Day, and my husband and I totally forgetting about the holiday. We weren’t in the mood to celebrate while our child lay in bed with an antibiotic-resistant strain of E-coli and a 105 degree fever.

But when more children entered the holiday picture, things changed. They had to.

Our culture starts priming no later than December first. Schools have assigned their book reports on the history of Saint Nicholas. Colorful light displays have popped up all around town, even in the neighbors’ yard, and Sunday schools have sent home all kinds of sticky candy cane decorations and manger scene ornaments. It’s everywhere. To say that kids are excited is an understatement, especially kids whose family is going through a tough time.

Even though presents do not erase the pain children feel, a small gift gives them something beautiful in the midst of tragedy, something to look forward to and give them hope. I saw evidence of this firsthand whenever a loving soul would hand my kids a toy or a coloring book, something to pass the time and distract their hearts from hurting.

The Christmas John had to stay in the hospital, I confided in one of the nurses (I believe her name was Eloise) that I hadn’t started shopping yet, only three days before Christmas. Even though I knew extended family adults expected nothing from us and were extremely supportive, I didn’t want to let the children down, especially Hannah.

She had been through enough. I couldn’t stand the thought of her suffering another disappointment.

Nurse Eloise lit up like a Christmas tree. “I’ll do your shopping for you!”

We continued talking, and by the end, she had encouraged me so much that on my commute home, I stayed out until midnight finishing my shopping. Even though I never took her up on it, Nurse Eloise’s kind offer could have come in handy if I couldn’t have mustered the emotional, mental, and physical strength to complete the task myself.

Planning, shopping, and wrapping gifts are typically not jobs parents want to handoff to someone else, but from one parent to another, give yourself permission to let it go. It can be really hard. Over the years, I’ve gotten really good at delegating, but I’ve finally realized that some things didn’t get done because I wanted to be the one to do them.

Sometimes getting it done is more important than doing it yourself. Christmas shopping for little ones is one of those important tasks, and typically, if you ask in advance, it won’t be too hard to find someone willing to help you shop and/or wrap.

Be careful if you end up doing the shopping yourself. I overspent like crazy the first time I holiday shopped during crisis. Emotion drove me like Mario Andretti his racecar because our degree of suffering was great – my heart leapt on the opportunity to ease the blow.

I highly recommend coming up with a simple budget-friendly list and sticking to it in the store.

May God surround you with much love and richly bless you and yours as you make preparations to navigate the season.

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