The perfect Christmas

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to our Christmas celebration.  I always do give a lot of thought to it, and it’s always my highest aim to keep Jesus as the center this time of year, and of that day in particular. 

However, I’m at odds with myself over that desire for simplicity.  

I grew up dirt poor.  Really, honestly poor.  And our Christmases were always a disappointment and an embarrassment.  I always hoped that no friends would call on the 26th, and that when Christmas break was up that most of my school friends’ excitement would have worn off and nobody would be talking about Christmas, because I dreaded having it asked of me, “So what did you get for Christmas?”  Because, invariably, it was next to nothing.  And, it’s not like I could fall back on the richness of cozy memories, either, because I had a very tumultuous, strife-filled childhood, and there was little joy, little celebration, little tradition, and no peace.

So, I find myself loathe to have our Christmas bare-bones minimalist, especially when we can afford to give our children nice gifts.  Now, it’s not a glutted orgy of wild gift-giving with multiple thousands of dollars spent.  But, we’ve always been generous, and it pleases something deep in my heart that I can give my children gifts that they’ve “always” wanted, when — not once — in my childhood did I dare to “always want” a gift, because I would never, ever, ever have gotten it.

Still, though, there’s something wistful that arises in me when I read of family Christmas celebrations that are extremely low-budget, but warm and filled with Jesus and tradition, with nary a spendy gift in sight.  This story, written by Daja, is, I think, just about perfect a description of a thoughful, cozy, inexpensive, loving Christmas, and will perhaps make you wish that you didn’t have two dimes to rub together so that you could have a Christmas like her family’s.   


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on November 27, 2007, in Christian Living, Christianity, Christmas, Introspective Musings, Memories, Parenting. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Oh, I SO know what you mean! (How do you do that??? You manage to voice things that are almost exactly my thoughts!!!) I’m not even sure where to begin with the thoughts I have after reading this! First, I’ll say that I’m so sorry your childhood was so tough! In many ways mine was very tough too but despite my mom not making a lot of money she was always able to buy us Christmas presents.

    I wrote a whole bunch more and decided it was turning into a post. 😉 So, I deleted it and I decided to continue this on my own blog. I didn’t want to write a book in your comment section! 🙂

    Thanks for a great thought provoking post!!!

  2. No gifts. We are taking a trip to NM to ski at a fairly cheap place. The gift of an experience. We have all we need in terms of toys and such. We will likely give to others. The kids are OK with it. I have always loved the do of Christmas instead of the gifts. WE make cookies, decorate, listen to music, have a fondue, go to the sights and lights. Fun.

  3. I’ve not yet arrived at the point in life where I get to make my own Christmas. We travel every year and don’t even decorate. But sometimes I fantasize about it anyway!

  4. Oh, man. This made me practically choke up:

    and it pleases something deep in my heart that I can give my children gifts that they’ve “always” wanted, when — not once — in my childhood did I dare to “always want” a gift, because I would never, ever, ever have gotten it.

    I almost never asked for things, though I did have things that I always wanted, like braces and nice clothes.

    I am so sorry that you had such a hard time as a kid. I’d gladly give you some of my childhood memories. I grew up with loving parents who bent over backwards to make things nice for us even though they didn’t have much money. And one of my Grandmas … I’m going to go cry now. I miss those old days.

    Thanks for linking to Daja’s post. It’s a great reminder that we can make our own fun. 🙂

  5. For the first time ever, we’ve actually finished all our Xmas shopping (well, you know why!) and it probably will involve an awful lot of presents. But nearly all of them will be stocking-fillers – silly, inexpensive things to reflect the fact that most of the fun is in the unwrapping.

    And the Nativity Scene/Buddha combo will probably make a return appearance. Wonder what he’ll say this year?

    You’re so entitled to indulge yourself a little (or a lot!), especially given your background. For me, the point is to see that the indulgence is just that and know when to put it away.

  6. First, thanks to everyone for your kindnesses. I’m feeling like a dork or something for fussing about my childhood. I don’t usually induldge in “woe is me” moments… Mostly, I’m in grateful awe of my Father in heaven who, by His sovereignty, has seen to it to make me an example of how someone’s sad childhood doesn’t necessarily mean one must have a sad adulthood.


    MLBAH ~ “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” eh? It’s good to be an encouragment to each other… I mean… Golly. What do I mean? It seems to me like my post was an encouragement to you, and you post, and encourage others.

    Lisa ~ NM, eh? I didn’t know you ski! I have suggested to Martin the “trip ILO gifts” idea, but he doesn’t like it. I am definitely focusing on the DOing of Christmas this year, much more than in other years… Not just the “getting it done”/ticking it off the list kind, but really enjoying the celebrations, and each other.

    Erin ~ Oh, you should decorate, just a little, even if you’re not hosting anyone, even if you won’t be in town for the day!! Especially since this is your first Christmas in your own new house.

    Mrs. N ~ I think the thing that makes me the saddest is that my parents were so wrapped up in their own muck, plus they just don’t do “celebrations” very well, that they just didn’t do much of anything to provide for a special Christmas. I have read tons of examples (Daja’s among them) of families who have sweet, Jesus-centered, family-centered, virtually-no-cost Christmastimes… My family (my childhood family) could have done that, but didn’t. So, it wasn’t all about the gifts and lack of money… It was the lack of tradition and peace and warmth. ~sigh~ I’m so pleased for you to have had good memories, sweet memories… What a heritage to pass on, you know?

    (u)rd ~ YAY for babies for Christmas!!! You’re smart to get all your shopping done early. I’m biting my tongue (fingers?) about the whole Buddha-meets-baby-Jesus thing… Sometimes, I think you’re so intent on rebelling against your altarboy history that you overcompensate. However… I do dearly want you and your wife and your son and soon-to-come daughter to be warm in body and spirit, to enjoy each other’s company, and to be truly blessed this Christmas.

  7. I think the difference really is how the emotions surrounded the gifts. My favorite Christmas was spent with my grandparents when I was 17. I got a hat & some shampoo. I don’t really remember what crap my parents sent me ‘cuz I couldn’t care less. I was happy with my hat & shampoo (I think I might have received a toothbrush as well) because my nut-job family was nowhere around to ruin it all by their, well, cruelty.

    In contrast, my Christmas’ with my parents &, later, step-parents, was the orgy you mentioned. I hate and loathe the Christmas orgy, not because we can’t afford it, but because it is associated with the grief my family caused.

    Hope that makes sense and just do your own loving thing at Christmas. The presents might or might not be remembered but the emotions surrounding the event will never go away.

  1. Pingback: Christmas=Jesus, not commercialism « Mom loves being at home

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