Personal Finance

Kat’s Money Corner: Here’s to inspiring a little holiday cheer


Since tomorrow is Christmas Eve, I want to take a moment and wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I am so grateful for my family, friends and for all of you. In the spirit of the season, I wanted to share two of my favorite memories of holiday’s past. Hopefully one of these inspires a little holiday cheer for you and yours.

The Gift of Giving

Some of my favorite memories involve volunteering. Growing up, my parents were heavily involved in many of the community outreach programs in our small Oklahoma town. My mom was often the contact who would create “Angel Trees.” The ages and wishes of families were placed on paper angels and hung on a tree. People from the community selected their angels to help make someone else’s holidays a little brighter.

My dad was a jolly guy so when the time came, my family transformed into Mr. and Mrs. Clause, complete with their elves (my brother and I) and we delivered these gifts to families. I can still remember the tears in the eyes of families as ‘Santa’ presented their gifts. Those families, whose worries were so much larger than I could even imagine, who struggled to put food on the table, made a deep impression on me. Their sincere gratitude has shaped my lifelong perspective of what really matters.

A Gift Beyond Measure

Speaking of gifts, do any of us really remember the majority of the items we receive every year? No, I admit that I don’t remember all of them, either. We do, however, remember the happy, excited feeling of rushing down the stairs to see what was beneath the tree or the delight on a family member’s face as they took stock of who had all come home to share the holidays.

We also tend to remember the traditions that are created within our families. I remember all our family gathering together and building snowmen out on the lawn, making snow angels together, then warming up with hot chocolate, cookies and laughter. One of my favorites was driving all over town, looking at the Christmas lights with my grandparents. Some years, we took a video camera with us to record the night. Now when I pull the VCR out, I can watch and hear my grandparents’ (now gone) voices ‘ohhh’ and ‘ahhh’ over the pretty lit-up homes.

Those memories, and the ones I am making with my own growing family, are what matter. I am thankful for each precious moment with friends and loved ones and another year of working towards “peace on earth and goodwill to man!”

Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, click