Ever find yourself really wishing you had more time to get ready for Christmas... December just seems to SNEAK up on you? Well, maybe we can make a difference... together!

Friday, October 21, 2011

6 weeks... OH SO EXCITING!

If you are like the "average" person ... you are just HATING me at this moment... for even MENTIONING that you have 6 weeks to get ready for Christmas... It's ok.  I don't have many friends at all that like it when I mention this... but, as I've shared before....I love Christmas! ... BUT I haven't ALWAYS loved Christmas.... 

I'm going to share a few things, that perhaps - you may not be interested in... but then again... maybe it will help you to understand my obsession to "MAKE CHRISTMAS COUNT - REALLY COUNT!".... 

As a child, I don't really remember many Christmas's until I was a teenager.... regardless, I loved Christmas! Now, don't get me wrong - it wasn't about the gifts... but it all started about the time I really "LEARNED" what Christmas was all about. 

Being just 12, in 1976, my little brother, the first boy born in our family passed away in May that year.  It was shall we say... a difficult year.  My dad was and still is a very hard worker - he did everything and anything he could to provide for his family... but he couldn't save my little brother.  Shortly after his passing, we were told that my mom was expecting child number 6.... Now, I am the oldest and sometimes it just seemed that there was a lot of extra help required from me - and honestly, because we didn't talk about my little brothers death after the funeral, it was pretty quiet in our house.  My mom was obviously very sad and even depressed I believe, and my dad well, he just worked... all the time.  He was rarely home.  I don't remember much for the next several years - it just seemed that we went through the motions of living. I kinda did my thing, helped with my siblings yet was always busy tending for other families in our neighborhood as often as I could as well... It was easier to be gone, than to be home with everyone that was so gloomy.  When I hit high school, my mom had child #7 and she was super busy with the other 5 kids.  I became involved in drill team, and loved it - and to this day, I'm very grateful that I had drill team to keep me focused. 
I remember the year.... 1980..... it was a really hard year, actually had been a few hard years for my parents, but this one seemed to be harder and was getting tougher... I'm not sure if there was an "economic" crunch or just what - but I remember it being very hard financially for us.

My mom asked me and my sister that was just 2 years younger, if we would be ok without Christmas gifts this year, as my parents were still paying off medical bills and funeral expenses etc., for my little brother. My dad owned his own business and things were just really tight. I remember telling my mom that it was ok for me to not have Christmas, but what about my little brothers and sisters... that just didn't seem right.  I worked during summer months to pay for my drill team costs, and during the school year I wasn't able to work because of drill team, so I was trying to find anything I could to help out and make sure that my 5 younger siblings would have something. I took babysitting jobs as often as I could, and was able to give my parents about $100 to put towards Christmas for my siblings. I was sooooo excited for Christmas this year! We were able to take the money I saved and some money that my mom made doing hair cuts, and my dad had gotten a extra unexpected check from a small side job, so mom & I went shopping. We had fun! We weren't able to get a ton, but we were able to get one thing for each of kids that THEY really wanted, and a outfit! This was going to be a great Christmas!
Just before Christmas, the last day of school before Christmas break in fact, I left the house early for drill practice.  I remember it was dark, cold and lots of snow falling.  About 10 am,  I got called to go to the main office. I was told that I needed to call home immediately.  (This was LONG before the cell phone days.)  I called home and my mom answered, she was in tears, I could hardly understand her. She asked if I had drove the truck to school that morning. Well, knowing better, I surely had not! But as I think about it now, I think she would have LOVED for me to say I had! Later that day,  my parents discovered that the truck had been repossessed by the bank, and all of our Christmas was in the back of the truck, and there was no way to get it out before Christmas. They (the bank) refused to let us have the stuff in the truck, and without the money to catch up the payment, there was nothing that could be done. This Christmas was going to be the worst now! I prayed all day that I would just "FIND" a big envelope filled with money somewhere! But I didn't find one anywhere! Darn it!

Christmas Eve, our doorbell rang. I went to answer, and there was no-one there... only a big box sitting on the porch. I helped my dad bring it in. It was filled with all kinds of food. Everything you could imagine! Turkey, ham, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, chocolates, candy, breads.... more food than we had seen in a long time! What a blessing! I remember my dad telling me that he was going to hide the fruit, nuts and candy and leave it out for Santa, so that he could at least fill the stockings with something. I remember wanting to know WHO would do this... WHO would just leave a box filled with food on our porch...and WHO KNEW about our situation? WHY would they not want us to know who they were? WHY? I went to bed feeling very blessed. Very grateful, yet I still wanted to know WHO would do this! My siblings were happy, things were looking just normal to them and that was all that mattered. (I guess I found my big envelope.)
Christmas morning came, and I was still a little upset but knew that everything would be alright. We were together and that was the important thing. We gathered in the front room, and usually, we would start with the little ones and watch them open their gifts...only there were no gifts. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door, and of course my dad thought it was MY friends, coming to "see" what I got for Christmas, so I went to the door, and again, no-one was there.... only a big box that was wrapped and filled with other wrapped boxes. And a big tag on it that said... LOVE SANTA

There were so many gifts inside that box - mostly for my younger siblings, but there were a couple for myself... I don't remember what.... I remember being so focused on how happy and excited my little sisters and brothers were! I remember my mom & dad with tears in their eyes, trying to take all of this in. My dad is a very private man, sometimes proud too...this was not easy for him. I knew that, but I also knew deep down, he was very humbled, very touched, very grateful.

You know - I don't really remember what I got that Christmas, I do remember my stocking though! It was filled with nuts, oranges, a candy cane and a pair of earrings! I love stockings! That is my most favorite part of Christmas, and I always save the stocking for the last!

From that year forward - I looked forward to Christmas, and was always looking for SOMEWAY that I could make a difference for someone else.  I had always tried to come up with gifts that really "meant" something to the receiver.... I LOVE CHRISTMAS!
Then...skip ahead a few years... I got married.  I was so excited to "add" new family members to my Christmas gift giving list.... and then... something happened... it was called REALITY!  and it happened fast!
I had such great hopes and desires to be able to continue this gift giving as well as find a stranger that I could do something for... to just bring a smile to their face.  Our first Christmas wasn't too bad... we were poor of course, but we managed.  However, as life does, through the course of the next year things started to change.... jobs.... we bought a house.... and with that house came new bills... Who knew BILLS could add up so stinkin' fast!  Before I knew it - we were not even making ends meet.... We were barely keeping our heads above water.... THEN... the unexpected happened... a baby was on it's way... ok, ok, I know it happens... but we were told I would not be able to have children.... so it was UNEXPECTED!  Needless to say - life just continued to happen - and before I knew it I HATED CHRISTMAS! Just hated it! It stressed me out!  It WORE me out!  It depressed me.... all because we didn't have any money.... being from a large family, (8 siblings), my husband has 4 siblings, and then our own children and mixing into it FAMILY TRADITIONS that I was NOT use too... was hard!  By the time we had 2 children, our Christmas gift exchange consisted of 17 gifts that needed to be done for those expecting to arrive at a family Christmas party BEFORE we could even begin to think about our own children.... and with a $20 limit for those gifts.... that just ADDS up fast!  IT STRESSED ME beyond my stressability!  Soon we had 3 children and that just upped us another 2 gifts.... oh.... I was falling apart.  I DREADED Christmas. I prayed and prayed that it just would NEVER come!  Finally, after number 4 and I believe we were up to 29 must have Christmas gifts before thinking of our own little family, I had to withdraw from the festivities.... from the "extended" family festivities that is.... (YEP! I was on the "reindeer poop" list... but it took so much stress off of me.) I felt HOPED that I might be able to someday "like" Christmas again. 

Granted, things have never become any easier.  Someone told me that it would get better as my children got older... but, I haven't seen that yet - maybe that is because they are so far apart.... LOL!  A few year ago - my youngest asked me "why don't you like Christmas mommy?"... and my older children replied, "Mom use to LOVE Christmas! Our house was always decorated, she would make a big pot of hot wassail and start it up every morning and the smell would wake us up.... she use to sing Christmas carols to us, read stories every night and she always made sure we had a stocking hung up".... when my youngest said, "What is a stocking?".... that is when I decided it was time to get back on track.  Back to the simple basics of Christmas.  Making Christmas count.... every day if possible. 

I decided that we needed to take to opportunities to find those that were less fortunate than us (because there were and are, many less fortunate, although at times I wondered if that were possible... I knew in my heart it was true) and do something no matter how small to make a difference to them.  Since then, we have done sub for Santa, we had the kids each give up one of their most desired gifts (after we let them pick it out, return it to the shelf, then find something that fit in that price range for a little girl and her family that lived up the street) and give it away.  We were able to witness from a distance the tears of joy on their faces that Christmas Eve when a box was left on their porch with food and gifts with a big tag that said "LOVE SANTA and a family that cares about you"....  We have done the 12 days of Christmas for a few different families through the years and you know.... this is what makes me so EXCITED about CHRISTMAS!  Giving a gift to my children that they will always remember... that hopefully they will share with their children and their children... a tradition that will continue on for a VERY long time. 

We now have a "HOMEMADE" Christmas at our house - and at first I worried about what my kids would think - when they didn't get the "traditional" gifts like their friends get... but I have some pretty amazing kids! They LOVE our HOMEMADE Christmas - and I am so thankful!  They ask Santa for 3 gifts - things that they really want - and Santa chooses ONE of them..for them, the rest of their Christmas is homemade from Mr & I... I LOVE IT!  I just can't wait!  Yep - it takes a lot of time... it takes thought.... it takes making it personal.... but that is the best part! I honestly don't think that they feel "cheated" in any way.  HECK! You can buy clothes and shoes ALL YEAR LONG!!!!! It's the little "special" things - that make CHRISTMAS COUNT!  PLUS, we try and do something every day during the month that is either serving someone else, attending a play or musical together as a family, seeing the lights, reading stories, having our night in Bethlehem... just little things that make a BIG difference!

So, come on! Don't get depressed!  BE EXCITED!!!! You still have time to make it REALLY count! 

Week 6 for me is gathering wrapping paper, ribbon, tape and such.... because we all LOVE to get PRETTY packages... right! I'm also checking my "baking" list, and sorting the items for holiday baking from our every-day shelves.  This next week as I put away the Halloween decorations, I will be pulling out the Christmas, double checking to see what will be required to complete my Christmas decorating as well.... I don't want to fall behind!  AND... I'll be reviewing and making plans for our "extra" activities... as many may need to be booked, and or someone may have to get off work... Lot's to do - but it is so FUN!!!  I am determined to ENJOY the HOLIDAY season thus year and MAKE CHRISTMAS really count.... Its all about remembering ... THE REASON FOR THE SEASON! .... oh...and of course... Santa's workshop is in full swing too!  Lots to do - but OH SO WORTH IT! 

I just can't WAIT!!!
Well... I can.... But I'm getting so SUPER EXCITED!!!!!!


  1. Hello, I just found your site and I love it! I love the music you have playing, it makes your blog a Christmas getaway! I also love how excited you are about Christmas, makes me feel like I'm not the only one. I'm a new follower!

    I just started a holiday blog, you should check it out. If you like it, I would love if you followed me :)

  2. I just stumbled upon your blog too!

    You illustrate so well why Christmas is special and why we should make it count - and not just at Christmas. May God bless you richly as you share what you've lived and learned!


It's like CHRISTMAS everyday when I unwrap your kind words! I just LOVE getting secret messages!!! I really have the BEST bloggy friends ever!