JEN’S ZEN – Hustlin’

It’s official. We’re entering the holidays – the most beautiful time of the year. 

And it really is SO beautiful. The white snow, the twinkling lights, sledding and hot cocoa and rosy cheeks and the wonderment of children on Christmas Eve and the magic of Santa Claus! The season of merry and bright. And beauty. 

Yet, behind the merriment of it all.

Here we are, Parents, trying to
“make a dollar outta 15 cents”
like Shock G and Tupac.

We’re trying to somehow create the explosion of presents under our trees that our children so dearly want, trying to figure out how we’ll pull this all together while we struggle to pay our rising utility bills. 

You feel me? I feel you.

Listen. You got this. You’ll find a way, and you will create memory-worthy holidays. 

Because you, Parent, are a Hustler.

You’re no stranger to the game. I see you selling your consignment to Once Upon A Child and slangin’ at the mom-to-mom sales … deciding which bill gets paid, and which ones wait … running carpools and clipping coupons and transferring debts to zero percent. 

The holidays just up the ante
in the game of Life you’re already playing.

And you, Hustler, come from a long line of hustlers before you.

My great-grandmother used to save onion peels all year long. Come Easter, she would dye eggs with the saved peels. It wasn’t a back to the land movement she was following – it was all she had

But you can believe that she wasn’t about to let her children go without dyeing eggs during the season. Hustlin’. 

Christmas didn’t simply “go away” as some favor to our ancestors during the dark years of the Great Depression. The kids during those days hoped for goodies in their stockings and believed in Santa, too, just like ours do. Those parents – who had to wait in line for bread and milk, and had to carve out the difference between surviving or starving – had a lot less than today’s version of broke. 

Yet, they fell upon their ingenuity, utilized their strengths, their friendships.

They found ways to make the holidays cozy. Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies were born during those dark holidays. A mama by the name of Ruth Wakefield didn’t have the baker’s chocolate her “butter drop do” cookie recipe called for. She chopped up what she had left of a chocolate bar instead. The rest is tasty history of chocolate chips, and a story of a woman who made the most of what she had. Ruth, our fellow Hustler. 

Hustlin’: To do things to get closer to the point you want to get.

But this holiday season, don’t lose sight of what you’re actually hustlin’ for. 

Presents, sure. 

Vacations … yeah, yeah. 

But, your ultimate job here this season? The reason you hustle and will continue to do so no matter what in the face of anything

We Parents protect “Merry and Bright” for our
little and loved ones, even when times are anything but.

We don’t fold because the going is tough, and we don’t let our children see us sweat behind closed doors turning those cents into dollars. We keep their joyous spirits alive! 

We. Protect. Their. Joy. 

We. Teach. Them. Beauty.

Singing Christmas carols is free as free can be. Making a snowman doesn’t cost a thing. Laughing. Hugging. Loving. But they want things. They deserve things. I want to give them all the things they want. 

And you’ll find your way, Hustler. Saving your Swagbucks, nabbing your Craigslist deals and eBay bargains, clipping your coupons, making your homemade everything, locking down your layaways. You may not be able to get everything you wanted to. Or you may. You’ll figure it out. Within your means. Working with what you have. 

Just as the Hustlers did before us, for us.

Our children will soon forget most of the explosion under that tree, but they’ll never forget the way the holidays feel. They’ll never understand all the beauty of the season if they only remember their parents stressed out about what they couldn’t buy. Our true legacy as Parents during the holidays lies less in the gifts under the tree, and more in our ability to promote joy.

We hustle to give our children the greatest gift of all: the cozy feeling of “Merry and Bright.” 

Batteries not included.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Hustlers.


— Because the damn dishes are never done. Laundry is a cruel joke. And because children are beautiful lessons in patience and counting. 10, 9, 8, 7 Breathe …

Jen W. O'Deay