When I was growing up Christmas was a time you got what you needed more than you got what you wanted. When I think of christmas I recall the smell of apples, oranges, and candy canes. My favorite uncle, uncle Aaron, always bought a big box of apples and a big box of oranges, a tradition carried on from the days of their childhood, when apples, oranges and a candy cane were what they got for Christmas. This was the only time of the year,other than summer, when they were picked fresh off the tree, that we had apples to eat.
My mother was the breadwinner of the family, and she worked at US Motors, in Philadelphia, MS, often working double shifts, just to make ends meet.
Toys were something we never got a lot of, but rather my mother taught me to make dolls from the purple flowers of the Maypop plant that came in spring, and every summer when we had a garden, corn, with it's different colored silks of red, blonde, and black, became my dolls. I never lacked for anything, because we used our imagination to make up for what we did not have in the material world.
One year I went shopping with my mother at Williamsville grocery in Philadelphia, MS. They also carried a line of clothing, so while my mother shopped for food, I looked at clothes. On a rack in the back was a beautiful, white, rabbit fur jacket that caught my eye. I showed it to my mother, and ask if I could get it, and she told me no, she was sorry, she just didn't have the money. I didn't throw a fit and jump up and down and cry, I just accepted the fact that she could not afford it, and forgot about it.
When Christmas rolled around I had three presents under the tree, and like most kids, I squeezed, shook and tried to feel what was inside the wrapping paper, but couldn't. On Christmas day I opened up the biggest box first, and there inside was the white, rabbit fur jacket, my mother could not afford to buy for me. The other two presents were books; Little Women, and a White Zipp up Bible that matched my jacket perfectly. Though ragged and worn, I still own the Bible, and treasure it today, as much as I did then, not only because it matched my Jacket, but for the words written inside. I treasure the memory of the jacket, because I know how hard it must have been for my mother to buy it for me.
Looking back I feel blessed that I grew up poor, as most everyone around here did. People knew what Christmas was about celebrating the birth of Christ, and you could actually find wrapping paper that had the words Merry Christmas written on it. People didn't push and shove each other or trample others to death trying to be the first to get the latest gadget on sale, they were thankful to have food on the table.
Keep in mind as you read this, this was one Christmas out of many, and was more than likely the only Christmas I got what I really wanted. If you can't do all you want for your kids this year, explain to them why. Kids understand more than people give them credit for, and when the time comes they do get what they want, they will appreciate it even more.
Teach them that the greatest gift of all was the gift of a baby in a manger, named Jesus. These things will last long after all the material posessions are gone and forgotten