I was watching the UK news and a series of interviews about parents who were going into debt to give their children a £100 gift list for Xmas. As a young mother of 2 now living outside the UK it made me question how did we get here? People were concerned at the various high interest credit that is now available, and while 'yes' it is disturbing, there should be just as much concern about the mind-set.

I now live in Switzerland. On the 5th December Santa comes with clementine’s, chocolates and nuts. At my office people tell me what they are doing for Xmas, and the majority are not giving presents but just spending time together as a family.

It reminded me of my Christmas' as a child. My parents during the strikes at Rover (a car plant in Oxford) had little money. My Mum used to go to the butcher and ask for the bones for the dogs. We had no dogs! My mum cooked soups, and I can never remember a day being hungry. She was and is a genius in the kitchen, and she taught me how to make something out of nothing. At that point we had to move into a flat, and we had no beds. My parents took the money that people were giving us for Xmas and bought us beds. On Xmas day after a comfortable sleep in our beds there were 2 pillow cases full of clementines and nuts from Santa (we didn’t have stocking my Mum used old pillow cases). I opened them excited with my sister, Mum and Dad.

We had an amazing day of fun playing games, and dinner. I can honestly say it is a positive memory. I grew up with no expectations of big things but the mentality to cut your cloth accordingly. This Xmas I am grateful for the roof over our heads, a healthy family and amazing friends. As a young family we find ourselves having to budget as childcare costs and bills eat up all of my salary. we are not poor, we just save and budget for presents. The main emphasis has been on the family and food. We have 6 people flying, in and 2 extra joining us. I spent the good part of a day comparing food prices online, but finally got it all in budget.

These are important values I want to pass on to my children, and I am grateful to my mother for bringing me up the way she did, and giving me that Xmas with clementine’s. It was the best present ever, as it has shaped who I am.

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