I don’t want to be a Grinch, but I think some people on low or fixed incomes need to get a grip during this time of holiday hoopla.

I apologize up front if anyone misunderstands and becomes offended by what I am trying to convey this Christmas. I have had no formal training (thank God) in the area of sensitivity, but I do know a thing or two about tough love.

I know personally what it is like to be poor, uneducated and have to struggle to make it from week to week. I know what it is like to have spent time in jail and have businesses with good-paying jobs refuse to hire me because of my felon status.

I know what it is like to live in the inner city, to raise four children and spend a paycheck before payday comes around.

I have had to work very, very hard and have had to watch over every penny all my life. But I have never gone broke at Christmas or gotten stuck paying for gifts until the month of July, because that would not be a good present to my family.

I have never felt the need to stand in long lines and gather free toys for my children from area agencies. I know that Christmas is going to come around each year so I don’t wait until the day before Christmas to prepare for it.


I work hard all year long to provide for my family, and that is a gift in and of itself. I have provided my children with their own rooms (privacy), a warm shelter, good food to eat and nice clothes.

I work extra hard all year so my children could go to summer camp and enjoy a few trips to the ocean every year.

I have no guilt for having small Christmases through the years. To spend money one doesn’t have in the name of love for your children is irresponsible, not to mention a poor example for those children.

I have learned that it is best to pay bills on time, stay out of debt and keep things simple, even at Christmastime.

You want to show your children love? Spend time with them. Bake some cookies; catch a Christmas play or sing-a-long at an area church; attend the lighting of the public Christmas tree and sip on some hot chocolate and take a wagon ride; play in the snow, read a Christmas story from a book from the library; stand in front of a store and ring a bell for the Salvation Army (your kids will love it); take part with your family by serving a meal on Christmas Day at the Hope Haven Gospel Mission; or make some greeting cards out of construction paper and sing a few songs to the shut-ins in an area nursing home. Watch some Christmas shows on TV.

There are so many ways to have a nice Christmas with children, even for those with low income and in the midst of a struggle.


Here are a few tips that might come in handy for those people who will be sharing a portion of their goodwill with the poor this year:

First off, use wisdom and practice common sense. I know this might seem strange to some, but I have seen people drop off Christmas gift boxes filled with ingredients to prepare a holiday dinner to people who do not know how to cook. I have also seen people donate a turkey that was too large to fit in a apartment-sized oven. I have seen battery-operated gifts (toys) given to the poor who lack the funds to keep replacing batteries.

Know that it is probably not a good idea to give a bicycle to a child who lives in a fourth floor apartment, because they will leave it in their yard and it will get stolen. If you do buy one, get a lock, too.

I would not suggest giving money to beggars or people who stand on corners with cardboard signs. It would be more effective to donate to an organization that will care for the unfortunate.

The Rev. Douglas Taylor is leader of The Jesus Party. He lives in Lewiston.

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