The Cliffies south in Oakville greet Christmas with glee. They love all the candy, the presents, the tree. Still, all Cliffies know Christmas means more than this. Christmas’s not in a package but in a hug and a kiss.

So all Cliffies know that their holiday spending Should not go unchecked, it should not be unending. They know what’s important, so they try to be true To themselves, to their values, financial ones too.

Cliffies learned their lesson while in North-Oak. They spent searching for magic, unaware of its yoke. They learned the hard way fantasies are just that. Too soon the real world crashed down onto them, splat!

The day after Christmas, anticipation thrill gone, The kids’ brand new toys scattered over the lawn. “There’s nothing to do!” little Cliffies cried, “I want a Happy Meal for the toy that’s inside!”

And for Mommies and Daddies it started to dawn That their planned New Year’s jump on finances was gone. Instead of retirement and college, they’ll race To pay the credit cards staring them in the face.

And as soon as they finally get near the end, Summer vacation’s upon them, Cliff-school’s to begin, Halloween’s round the corner, Thanksgiving… Oh, why Do they still long for the Christmas only money can buy?!

But, Great-Grandma-Cliffie remembered the old. “Yes, there once was a time when goodies were gold, When a fresh orange and peppermint made Christmas complete, In the days when we tried just to get ‘nough to eat.

“But nowadays this plan of the never-ending stream Of stuff — just seems to ruin the whole thing. It’s like high-fructose corn syrup. It’s only a lull. Leaves us hungry for more and never quite full.

“We’ve got to get back to our real Christmas theme About love and self-giving, and avert from the gleam Of limitless spending in search of a dream.”

So that year, the Cliffies made their own decision About what they could spend on Christmas in reason. An amount that respected all of their goals Because all are important to keep their lives whole.

First, they wrote down the amount of what they could spend. Then they listed each Christmas expense top to end — Every gift and the tree, something special for Mommy, The cards and the postage, the Salvation Cliff-Army.

Beside every item, they placed an amount, And added it up and counted it out. Oops… the sum was too high… so they thought about upping The original amount. But Great-Grandma was yupping,

“Instead of just nixing your values, how ‘bout Spending less on some items and leaving some out. And, well, while we’re making the list, why not add Homemade bread for Aunt Hazel, knitted mittens for Dad.

“Giving of ourselves is what Christmas’s about. So, stick to your budget when you go out. Don’t be tempted by ‘great deals’ and trinkets so cheap. They’re no substitute for what’s special you keep.

“The true meaning of Christmas will reside in your heart. And, by honoring yourself and your finances, you start On the road to that warm, fuzzy feeling of money, Where the future’s not dark, but like roses and honey.”

What’s up Next? The Time Power of Money.

Berry is not a Certified Financial Planner. She is the self-taught manager of her family’s finances and a cum laude graduate of Texas Tech Law School. Before making any financial decisions, evaluate all information carefully and consider consulting a financial professional.