Impact – Wealth Management


Christmas is Ruined (Part One)

Two of the best Christmases I ever had started out with the feeling that Christmas was ruined.

Sometimes life is crazy. Things rarely go as planned. We roll up to the Christmas season with great expectations and often feel disappointed and defeated when curveballs threaten our plans.

I think about “expectations” a lot.  Sometimes I think they are our worst enemy. When our expectations aren’t met, we often can’t overcome the feeling of disappointment which can cause us to miss the beauty of what happened instead.

Christmas as a Child

Growing up, we spent nearly every Christmas Eve at my Grandma Helen’s house and Christmas Day at my Grandma Marilyn’s house. Even when my family lived hundreds of miles from my grandparents, we made the trek back to South Dakota nearly every Christmas. There were only a few Christmases while we were living away that we didn’t get to come back for one reason or another. One such Christmas happened in 1990.  I was 11 years old.

I believe that the main reason we didn’t travel that Christmas was because we just didn’t have the money. We were living in Toluca, IL and my parents had just started a brand new church. Money was very tight. My sister Melissa and I were doing paper routes to earn our own money. Heather, my littlest sister, had just turned 2 years old.

A few weeks before Christmas my dad took me aside to teach me a very important lesson.

He taught me about investing. It was my very first introduction to the concept.

He gave a very simplistic lesson about allowing an institution to use your money in exchange for interest. Dad told me that 7% was a typical rate of return (I didn’t say his lesson was perfect – ha ha!) and that if you earn 7% for 10 years, you double your money. I thought that sounded pretty good.

My dad then offered me an opportunity.  He said that I could invest in him and that he would give me an even better rate. He would double my money in ONE year! I agreed that would be a great investment! I went to my dresser drawer and took out $50 of my hard-earned paper route money and “invested” it in my dad.

The Truth Revealed

Many years later I found out that the “investment” I’d made allowed mom and dad to buy Christmas presents that year.

He and my mom went to the dollar store in Winona, IL and purchased presents for all three of us girls with that $50 investment.

We got Lincoln Logs, a puzzle, and a chess board.

(pictured above) My sister, Melissa, and I opening our Lincoln Logs and 100 piece puzzle for Christmas – check out that orange and green flowered couch we had – HA!)

I remember this Christmas most because after we opened the gifts, we spent the rest of the day as a family putting the puzzle together, building things with Lincoln Logs and learning how to play chess.

Over that Christmas break we spent a LOT of time learning chess and challenging each other to little “tournaments”.

Leading up to Christmas in 1990, I think we all felt really disappointed.

I was a kid, so I didn’t understand the financial worries, but my mom and dad had to have felt like they were going to completely disappoint their kids on Christmas.

And I am sure that in the moment I DID feel disappointed. I am sure that there was something I was really hoping for that I didn’t get that Christmas. But guess what, I don’t remember what it was.

The only thing that stood the test of time was the happy memories of learning chess with my dad. I recall it as one of the most memorable and special Christmases I ever had.

I am a financial planner so I live and breathe the importance of money.  But life (like Christmas), isn’t all about money.  It isn’t all about giving and receiving the most elaborate gifts.  It’s about how we use what we have to enrich our relationships.

If you’re feeling like Christmas might be ruined this year, check your expectations, buy a chess board, and subscribe to our blog because I’ve got another story to share with you about the hardest and best Christmas of my life.


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