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Bacolod City, PhilippinesWednesday, November 20, 2013

We can’t afford this Christmas

Dear Tita,

Christmas is just around the corner. While everybody seems happy and excited to be celebrating this season, I am not looking forward to it.

Every year, my in-laws celebrate Christmas with a big family reunion at the home of my husband’s parents. We always attended because they expected us to. Everyone got gifts and we gave gifts to all the family members. My mother-in-law would prepare a lot of food and we all ate till we were full. This had been the tradition in the family for years.

A lot of things have changed since our last Christmas. A few months ago, I lost my job when the company I worked for, closed. Money has become tight since then. I tried to find another job but to no avail. To make things worse, my husband had a motorcycle accident after playing basketball with his friends. He had to be hospitalized and this drained all our savings. I have to limit our expenses to the barest minimum so we can pay our monthly bills. Our kids have to cut down on their expenses.

With things the way they are, I don’t see how we can join the family reunion since we can’t afford to buy gifts for the rest of the family. The problem is, my husband's family expects everyone to buy presents for everyone else. This means we have to buy for 15 people aside from our own kids!

My husband won't let me say anything to his family about our situation. He has so much pride that he doesn’t want the others to know how broke we are. If we borrow money to be able to buy gifts for the family reunion, we might sink into a pool from which we can never get out.

Can you give me some advice?


Dear Worried Wife,

Please tell your husband to forget his pride and tell his parents the truth about your situation. If you continue trying to adhere to his family's "traditions," by borrowing money to buy the gifts, your little family will never be out of debt, and your financial burdens will continue to grow until they crush you.

The thing to do is to be honest with them and explain why you can’t afford to buy gifts for everyone. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It could happen to anyone. I’m sure the family will understand and stand by you.

This is what families are about – sharing each others’ burdens and being there when needed. Merry Christmas!



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