Holiday Confessions of a Stressed-Out Mom (And the Remedy I Didn’t See Coming)

We’re already into the third week of December, and you know what? I just have not been feeling it. I tried to welcome it. I tried to make myself get excited. But this year, the Christmas season hasn’t been the same. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been trying really hard! I put up my decorations earlier than our normal post-Thanksgiving decorating blitz. I talked my younger son into helping me hang lights on the outside of the house, which we haven’t done in several years. I even bought Christmas face masks so I’d look festive, even if I didn’t necessarily feel it. For some reason, though, it just didn’t feel the same.

I blame COVID for most of it. Two members of my household have contracted it in the last two months. (Which meant a month total of quarantine.) We didn’t get to have our normal family Thanksgiving gathering to kick off the season. We haven’t been able to go to church. And it’s almost the end of the school semester, and online learning has been a challenge for the entire family. I had to face it. I was having an all-out pity party.

So, I started looking for a way to genuinely experience holiday cheer again, and I found a way! I got the idea while sitting in my living room, trying to keep the dogs from eating the Christmas tree ornaments and hoping for some peace after what had been a hectic weekend. It was then I noticed–my tree was bare. Yes it had lights, glittery ornaments and a shining star, but beneath it–nothing! I hadn’t bought one single present. After seeing so many Facebook posts of people shopping and wrapping and ordering ... I’d been doing my share of mom self-shaming. It’s not about the gifts themselves, it’s about the excitement I get in seeing my family’s faces.

My solution wouldn’t involve fighting the mall. It wouldn’t involve a bet against time that an Amazon shipment would arrive before Christmas. The solution shone high above a nearby parking lot. It was like it said “God-will.” My kids have always enjoyed shopping at Goodwill, so why not buy their gifts there? PLUS, the money I spend will go to help people in my community. Take a look at what I found!

Check out these awesome dress shoes my son is sure to love, just $12.91. They even still have the shoe trees in them. Those alone are worth more than the cost of the shoes. They have a little wear to them, but not much at all.

I also found these quirky coffee mugs for my kids’ grandparents. My boys are 17 and nearly 20, but the fact that they are so toddler-esque made them even more fun. They will go great in my parents’ rustic hand-built cabin. Together, they cost me just $3.82.

Ok, I might be most proud of this sweater that my older son is going to love. It’s Banana Republic and looks great. It was definitely a steal at ... get this … $4.50. Woo-hoo!

My next treasure, a Banana Republic button-up shirt that my younger son will really like. The price tag, a whopping $4.00. You can’t beat that! Sorry, I got so excited I forgot to take a photo before I wrapped it.

And for my sister-in-law–These super fun, brand new gift sets of lotions, lip glosses and nail polishes. Those came up to just $4.03

My older brother is going to really like this stainless steel thermos for $1.91. He’s a big coffee drinker.

Then, the pièce de résistance, this super cute backpack by Juicy Couture. It’s new and still has the tags for $20.22. Online, I found the same backpack for sale by discount resellers for between $35.00 and $50.00. My only question now … Do I give it to my sister-in-law instead of the gift sets? Maybe my son’s girlfriend will like it? Or do I keep it for myself? Hmm ...

As you can see. I made a pretty good haul. And at Goodwill, you don’t even have to pay tax, so my total was just $51.39 for all of this! When the cashier asked if I’d like to “Round Up” my total to the nearest dollar as a donation, of course I said “Yes.” My family is going to love the gifts, and since my purchases are funding Goodwill’s programs, they’re going to help a lot of people who are struggling right now.

I have to say, making so many people happy with one simple trip to the store will put a stop to a pity party faster than you can say “Merry Christmas!”

To learn more about the programs funded by your purchases, visit and click on the “Programs and Services” tab.


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