Fifteen years ago when I was single and teaching 4th grade and living on my own, I blew pretty much all of my salary on clothing.
I had a seriously kick-ass wardrobe.
Every outfit I owned came from J Crew and Gap and Banana Republic.
I can safely say that I was the best dressed teacher at school, and I never wore the same thing twice during the school year.
It makes me sick to my stomach thinking about the amount of money I spent on clothes back then.
Because we are still in the midst of a horrible financial situation. A hardship that is stressful and exhausting and that just totally fucking sucks.
But part of me is thankful.
I am heading into this Thanksgiving feeling grateful for the current state of affairs.
I have not bought new clothes for the kids in two years.
Everything they own is a hand-me-down. Everything.
My friends and cousins are keeping my children dressed.
My thirty-year-old self would have been horrified at the thought of completely outfitting my kids in second-hand clothing.
But not my forty-five year-old self.
First of all, you’d never know it.
My kids aren’t running around like the Von Trappes wearing clothes made out of old drapes.
They look great.
But more importantly, they have an appreciation for anything that they receive.
Even if it’s used.
Especially if it’s used.
They understand it’s too expensive to shop at the mall.
And they are totally okay with it.
They do not expect to receive clothing from Abercrombie.
They have no idea what Hollister or Justice or any other store is, for that matter.
My neighbor’s daughter is a manager at Abercrombie in the mall.
She was just telling us how shoplifting is one of the biggest problems her daughter has to deal with.
Only it’s not the kids stealing stuff.
It’s the parents.
Parents who feel the need to keep up with the Joneses.
Parents who can’t say no to their kids.
I know it sucks.
I know we all want to give our kids nice things.
But come on Parents!
You can view this as a failure to provide your kids with a name brand, $75 shirt.
Or, you can view this as a really good opportunity to teach your kids a valuable lesson.
All of the Christmas presents my kids are getting this year are used toys I’ve gotten from friends.
And you know what?
My kids won’t care.
They will be happy on Christmas morning.
So will I.
I won’t have to worry about extricating toys from packaging, assembling dozens of parts, or going to jail for stealing crap because I refuse to be honest with my kids.
Sure, I really hope this is the last Christmas we find ourselves having to constantly worry about money.
But even if it is, my days of brand new everything are over.
And that’s probably the best Christmas gift that I will ever give to my kids.
Thank you for making me Number 1!
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