Roses and Reindeer Noses Are Red…But Finances Don’t Have to Be

How can you turn a one-cent paper napkin into a priceless memory? By turning the napkin into a rose! Often, creativity will be the solution for the season because . . . the real value behind a gift is the relationship not the riches.

With the holiday season comes a host of special, unique, short notice, expected and unexpected “demand signals”: military balls, receptions, open houses, office parties, babysitting costs, gift and cookie exchanges, hostess gifts, holiday gifts, potlucks, travel, special meals and new sweaters with reindeer and wreaths. How we handle these opportunities will keep our finances in the black or move them into the red. How we relate to these things touches on spirituality, a helpful consideration in maintaining a healthy financial perspective through the holidays.

Consider the following illustrations of the Department of Veteran Affairs (VHA Directive 1111, May 30, 2008) definition: “Spirituality – may be used in a general sense to refer to that which gives meaning and purpose in life or the term may be used more specifically to refer to the practice of a philosophy, religion, or way of living. The human expression includes activities that strengthen self and build healthy relationships.” For instance, In the Little House on the Prairie books, Laura Ingalls Wilder relates her childhood Christmas experiences. Her mother brought out the white sugar (brown sugar was the staple during the year), their stocking was filled with a nice orange and one piece of store-bought candy, and her Dad made them a wooden toy or carving. Simple, but very special! Her memorable books vividly capture rich, though not wealthy, relationships. As another example, a family recently entertained five college kids over Thanksgiving break, all children of family friends who live nearly 10,000 miles away in Guam. The birthday of one of these college kids fell on Thanksgiving Day. In addition to tradition, a cake and song, how could the day be made special for her? One of the hostess’ sons taught his brother and sister how to make a dozen roses out of pink paper napkins and that bouquet greeted the honored guest Thanksgiving morning.

Amidst holiday hustle and bustle, remember two simple principles for giving and serving this season:

  1. Do what you can by giving yourself permission to spend within your means. Before you buy, ask yourself a question: “How will I feel in January if I’ve spent more than I have?”

2.   Do something special, through creativity and thoughtfulness. Writing a card may be more encouraging than “swiping a card.”  Thoughtful, loving, handwritten thoughts will be read and read and read and . . .

Happy Holidays and Peace from Chaplain Tim Overturf, 2d Marine Division Chaplain


Relationships are one of the five principles of resilience. Interpersonal relationships are the underpinning of unit cohesion and morale, family wellbeing, and community. With strong relationships, individuals and groups can thrive despite profound challenges.

One response to “Roses and Reindeer Noses Are Red…But Finances Don’t Have to Be

  1. I’m not in the Navy, but I sure liked this post. Thank you. Sometimes, I think we hurt the other person when we have given them a gift that they know we can’t afford. Time is priceless – which makes the hand written card or home made gift so special. What has been said here could be shared with every family in America.

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