I elegantly sashay down the long, broad yellow brick road; starry eyed and in awe of the enticing play of colours, the myriads of flashing lights and the heartfelt anthem playing joyfully and jingly. The exciting lilt of the commoners fill my ears and my heart echo with them the joy and pleasure of the moment. In my silky ball gown I am traipsing about from one kingdom to the other – each filled with beautiful gifts, shiny and sparkly, crying out to me to take ownership of them. My hand graze the tab on one of them in a loving caress… and a rude awakening took possession of me like a wild horse in a veld fire when I looked at the price.

To recover from my ordeal I navigate my way through the passage of our local Mall to hunt down a coffee shop whilst the remains of my ball gown float down in wispy dregs behind me, leaving me in my ordinary, grey workers outfit. How easy was it for the hype of the festive season to draw me in, and how painfully difficult is it to take out my little black Book of Budget, Bob, because I know that it is going to look at me with a stern face and bring me back to reality. This reality has walked with me as a single mom with three children for five years now and it has turned my mouth to bile every year this time. Again the anger, hopelessness and helplessness floods me – and I allow the luxury of self-pity to wash over me… just for a moment.

This year in particular has been tough, with the downward spiral of the economy and the stubborn upward force of price hikes. Every time I looked into Bob’s eyes, the vacancy in it spelt doom. The expectations of my children becomes greater where Christmas gifts are concerned because the demand to be “cool, current and popular” rest so heavy on those narrow shoulders.

Yet I cannot meet that expectation because there is just no finances for them and lotion and soap-on-a-rope will not win me mom of the year award – again. Being a single mom with a basic salary and mouths to feed in a world that has become more focused on materialism is a scary venture and not for sissies.

It takes a woman of considerable nobility of heart, determination, creativity and most of all love to finish this race. As I am sipping my entry-level coffee that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, I want to salute all single moms having to raise children on their own. You have done it! For this year, you have conquered and even Bob is pleased. Yes, the kids might be unhappy about the stew they eat on Christmas and the small, insignificant gift that you had to get them, but one gift no one can give your children: a mom’s love, acceptance, praise and exhortation. Through all the anger that they might feel when they open up their gift and see that it is a poem written on a cardboard and lotion … again! … know that one day they will look at the poem and feel your love as the words flood their heart.

Let your love and prayers for them become the compass giving them direction as they navigate through life in their becoming the best parent to their children.

Live this festive season to the fullest in gratitude and love. Have a blessed Christmas.