My Cheap Gift

Another birthday party, baby shower, gift exchange.  Ugghh.  I hate these moments.  I always strive to give a thoughtful gift.  Something that suits the recipient and what I know of their personality. Sometimes that isn’t possible, whether it’s because I do not know the person very well, or I just do not have the means to obtain that special gift.

When my children attend birthday parties, I believe each should have a gift of their own to give. Yet, I dread the moment that I watch the birthday child opening their gifts: First a bag with enough clothes for a week; Then some outrageously expensive new toy that is all the rage. When our gifts are handed to the birthday child, I hold my breath. Are the $5.00 gifts each of my children picked out themselves going to make them happy that they attended this party, or are their feelings going to be hurt, because they may be too cheap? I let out a sigh of relief when I hear the words, “It’s just what I wanted!” Another bullet dodged.

To make matters worse, we all seem to have one or two friends that like to “out-do” each other. Great! So now I dread parties where gifts are publicly opened so everyone can try to outshine each other. I prefer to try to give thoughtful gifts that I feel suit the recipient, whether my thoughtfulness is noticed or not. So while everyone else spends all their money on one thing that will make them look like the better friend, my inexpensive gift makes me look less involved in the relationship. I give up. I cannot compete. I’m not really as inconsiderate or cheap as one may think. I’m just broke.

This happens time and time again. If the holidays aren’t upon us, a baby is being born, someone is getting married or someone has a birthday. Yes we are a two income family with two nice cars and a nice home. But it’s really all just an illusion. We have spent thousands of dollars to fix up our home to make it look as nice as it is. One of our cars came relatively cheap from my parents after my car was totaled in an accident. My nice clothes mostly come from Goodwill. My nice jewelry…most of it I either made myself (one of my hobbies), or it was given to me. We really aren’t trying to keep up with the Joneses. We just have children.

Any parent knows children are not cheap, even just the basic living expenses. Then there are clothes. Children grow out of clothes so fast. Either I’m replacing school clothes, or I’m replacing summer clothes. Luckily with two girls, there is a chance for hand-me-downs. But not everything will survive to be handed down to the next sibling. We also try to give our children opportunities at those critical moments in their life where they may make a difference. Unfortunately such opportunities aren’t cheap. Multiply those expenses by the number of kids you have. And last, but certainly not unimportant, childcare costs. My husband and I make decent salaries. Unfortunately I lose half of mine to childcare. HALF! It’s an outrageous expense, yet an extremely important one for the safety and well-being of my children.

I feel a gift does not have to be expensive to be thoughtful or from the heart. You cannot see the amount of time and effort I put into searching for the perfect gift for you. Sometimes I fail in my search. Just know that whatever I do give to you, regardless of the price, it is from the heart, because you mean enough to me for me to take the time to find the perfect token of our friendship. I’m not cheap.  I’m just broke.

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