I love everything about Christmas—the music, the TV movies, the celebrations, the food, time spent with friends and family. Although, since moving so far away from my family eighteen years ago, I don’t get to spend as much time with them during the holidays as I’d like (if at all). And that’s hard sometimes. My family is fun to be around, especially during the holidays!
When I was growing up, my parents often struggled to make ends meet all year round, and Christmas made stretching the budget even tougher. But they managed to give us happy holiday memories every year. One way they made that happen was by purchasing pre-owned gifts for us. Often, my mom and dad could find something on our list from someone who no longer needed or wanted that particular item. But that tradition took an interesting turn when my siblings brought their future spouses to a family Christmas.
At the time, my dad worked maintenance for the city. Each one of us got a toilet bowl brush that included the cleaner (the city was getting rid of these because the cleaner ate the porcelain in the toilets). So the used gifts also became gag gifts. Even better? My (now) brother-in-law held onto his and re-gifted it to my dad the following Christmas.
Another way my parents stretched the budget to allow for a more memorable Christmas was by making gifts. I wish I still had some of those things they made. My mom crocheted several Strawberry Shortcake dolls for my sister and I. And one year, my dad made each of us desks. They were all designed around our interests. At the time, my brother was really into Nintendo so his desk had slots to hold his games. My sister’s desk had a large area where she could do her artwork and mine included enough surface area to put my word processor (does that information give away my age?).
My mom also crocheted each of us Christmas stockings. We always got a laugh out of those because they were huge (especially Santa—my dad’s stocking).
Presently, God has blessed my family and none of us are living on as tight of budgets as we did growing up, but I am so thankful for my childhood Christmases. They taught each of us that it’s not about how much money you spend or how many gifts are under the tree. Instead, Christmas is about appreciating the uniqueness of every person in your family, what their gifts are, and how to support those gifts. Christmas isn’t about what’s under the tree but those who gather around it.
Suzie Waltner is the author of the Remembrance series and the upcoming
Rhythm of Love series. You can visit her at www.suziewaltner.com