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(Editor’s Note: Readers of the Tomahawk Leader have found this “Youth Weigh In” column each week on our Education page. In it, Marleen Lehnherr of Tomahawk Together puts some tough questions to local young people. We’ve been impressed with their responses, logic and compassion. Take note of this week’s dilemma and how some of our youth would handle it. Then consider what you would do in a similar situation. We also send our best holiday wishes to Marleen and the kids who have become active in Tomahawk Together’s Healthy Community/Healthy Youth Intiative. –Kathy and Larry Tobin, co-publishers of the Tomahawk Leader)
By Marleen Lehnherr and friends Healthy Community/Healthy Youth Initiative Tomahawk Together
YOUTH WEIGH IN ‘The way I see it’ Holiday pressure
2007 has been a rough year for some families and now it’s Christmastime and money is especially tight.
Stress in some families is high and expectations are great. The meaning of Christmas for many is built around giving and getting. Many feel the pressure so strong that they go into major debt that isn’t paid off until five or six months into the next year (if at all). This year, however, for some that option is not available as several factors have already claimed all or most of their expendable income.
This week’s dilemma addresses just such a predicament for one family.
Your best friend, Jane, comes from a loving family who has hit on hard times this year. One of her brothers suffered a major illness that eventually drained the family savings account. It was a long process of medical procedures, but it now looks like he is in remission and should fully recover.
Added to that, Jane’s father was laid off and it doesn’t look likely that he will be called back. So the only family income is from mom who has taken a job to help out with expenses.
It’s Christmastime, a favorite time of the year for Jane. But as she tells you, it won’t be a normal Christmas for her family. Living expenses, heating, gas for mom’s transportation to go to work have all escalated. No, this will not be a normal Christmas. Jane tearfully tells you that her brothers, mom and dad are not going to be able to spend money on presents this year like they so dearly loved to exchange with each other for past Christmases. There will be no money for extras, and this year, gifts are certainly extras.
How do you console Jane? What can you say to let her know you understand, care and want to help her feel better?
Do you have any positive suggestions that she could latch onto at this sad time in her life?
Do you have any creative ideas about gifts that could be exchanged that didn’t cost money?
•The way I see it, one suggestion for gifts to her parents could be art projects that she made at school. It's a no-cost gift that will still have a warm meaning. Tell Jane that presents are a fun part of Christmas, but it's the meaning of the gifts that really make the holiday special, not whether it's big or small. She can be grateful for her family's achievements in the past year. Even though it's always fun to talk about what you received for gifts after Christmas, tell your friends to consider not telling all about what they got, to make Jane feel better. -Jen, age 13
•The way I see it, you and a few more of Jane's friends, could chip in Christmas money and do a little Secret Santa for her family. This would be a good way to bring her spirits up and you can feel that you have done a great thing for a friend and her family. Another suggestion would be for her family to look to an organization like the Salvation Army for help. I would tell her that even though the gifts that usually are given won't be, she can still feel gracious for all that she does have, like her brother's health, after all that is the true meaning of Christmas. -Hilary, age 16
•The way I see it, I would tell her it's okay, at least you get to spend time with your family!
Anyway Christmas isn't about gifts, it’s about love, caring and spending time with your family. Most of all, Christmas is about Jesus being born. I would tell her to come to Christmas Eve service at church with me. I would also tell her that she could make cards and little gifts to give to family and friends, they mean just as much as a big gift. -Anna, age 11
Mark Your Calendar Christmas with Friends Christmas Day – 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Grace Fellowship Hall (Facilities donated by Grace Lutheran Church) Reservations appreciated: Please call Debbie at 453-4066 Questions, call: Dave or Marleen Lehnherr at 453-7567
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