It’s Christmas season once more! For a lot of people, Christmas brings forth feelings of trepidation, laughter and cheer. It is a time of joy as we get to see relatives we haven’t seen for a long time during family reunions. It is a time when both employees and students alike can relax and take a break from the stress of office or school work.
Yet, for most people, especially those living in urbanized cities, instead of being a time for relaxation, Christmas becomes a time of stress due to the hustle and bustle of several company parties, organizational parties, church parties, family reunions, not to mention the dreaded Christmas shopping for gifts! Although employees are supposedly richer during this time because of the release of their 13th month pay, expenses for these aforementioned party contributions and gifts eat up the otherwise extra inflow of cash. In fact, not only is the extra income brought about by the various bonuses eaten up, they even usually end up broke and buried deeper in debt as a result of excessive shopping for both themselves and their loved ones.
However, giving gifts and throwing parties this Christmas need not be too burdensome and stressful. Besides, just like giving birth, these things are not actually emergency situations but normal and regular events that we can prepare for by planning ahead. Creating a budget is not only for business operations, buying a home, a vehicle or preparing for your children’s college fund or one’s retirement. A budget may also be used in preparing for any event that entails expenses. As with any financial plan, preparing a Christmas budget begins with setting the goals relative to the target recipients and intended price limit per gift or contribution. The next step is to find out the place where the best deals can be found considering the most appropriate gifts that you intend to give the concerned persons. After determining the target amounts, recipients, and specific gifts, it is now time to start setting aside the money therefor. Take note that these things should be done at the start of the year or at the latest, six months before the next Christmas.
Ensuring the success of any endeavor depends on proper planning and execution. Sufficient planning helps enable us to avoid unwanted surprises and excessive expenses. Without a plan, we may be tempted to give gifts to everyone in our Facebook friends list. This is especially true once we are already inside the mall for our Christmas shopping spree. A budget limits our expenses to only those which we intended. It prevents impulsive spending. Keep in mind that we do not need to spend more than what we want to impress people we don’t even like.
Giving gifts this Christmas should not feel like such a heavy financial burden. The essence of giving gifts is its voluntariness. We should not give gifts just because we feel obliged to give but because God loves a cheerful giver. Just like the real reason for the season wherein for God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). This is the Gospel of Salvation in Christ that we celebrate each year. God the Father did not sacrifice his only begotten Son, the ultimate gift that anyone could ever receive, because he felt obliged to but because of His great love for us. As sinners, we deserve only the punishment that a just God has in store for those who violate His commands and precepts. Nevertheless, because of God’s overflowing love for us, He did not want us to suffer eternal hell-fire reserved for Satan and his minions. In order to satisfy both his justice and love, the only solution was for the Father to let His Son Jesus, God the Son, receive the penalty for our sins. Let this be the same motivation why we likewise give gifts every Christmas season.