Somehow I missed this thread until now!
When I was very young my parents were on a very tight budget as well. My Mom has always believed in quantity over quality - so while we had a number of presents, they were all inexpensive. I remember one year she sewed my sister and I a huge collection of Barbie clothes mostly made from scraps and old socks. It was one of my favorite gifts ever. We always made decorated sugar cookies for Christmas (and rum balls) and we had an inexpensive buffet dinner on Christmas Eve and a roast beef dinner on Christmas Day. We usually had relatives for Christmas - usually my aunt and uncle (until the year he asked her for a divorce on Christmas night) and sometimes one of the Grandmothers. It was always a lot of fun even if we didn't spend much. Once my Mother returned to work, we had a lot more money in the house. We were 4 children so my Dad always watched his pennies. I was the oldest (my younger sister was almost 13 years younger) so I remember the most frugal times
I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas
We lived in a very small house (with 2 bedrooms) 6 people, dad, mum, grandma and 3 kids. Dad was the only one working, but he did not get much money.
My parents used to decorate a tiny tree and they always put it on a small table cause in that way it would seem taller for me and my sister.
I never got what I wanted cause I just never asked for anything particular for a Christmas present. Any present (whatever this was) was just an amazing surpise for me and I remember being extremely happy when given a wrapped package.
Now, as years have gone by, I always find myself doing the best presents for my parents, I love watching their eyes when they get packages from the 3 of us...
They so much deserve it and i just wish I had more money to buy them whatever they really needed, but, I have found a way, I get presents that do not cost much, so, there have been times where I get 2 or 3 presents for each.
Until now, my mum loves to buy me socks for Christmas and my dad a book. I do not know guys, I always get sentimental and find very sweet to get presents from 2 guys who have no money.....
A smile from both, is the best present I can ever get for Christmas.
And so, as Tiny Tim observed, "God Bless us!! Everyone!!''
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (1843)
First of all, I've enjoyed reading all of the posts on this topic. Second, like OM, I can't believe I haven't seen this until now!
Christmas was always a big deal for my sisters and me growing up. We were a one-income, middle class family and there weren't a lot of extras during the year. But at Christmas, my parents always saw to it that their kids had plenty of presents under the tree. Presents from them always had a gift tag, but presents from Santa always had a magic-markered initial on the wrapping paper. (Mom's explanation was that Santa only had time to scribble on the paper, he couldn't be expected to fill out a gift tag for the millions of kids that night. However, I never could figure out how he had time to wrap the presents. ) That tradition has continued with Mom and Dad for their grandchildren.
I think Mom and Dad tried to do as much for us at Christmas as they could because of the way they both celebrated Christmas growing up. Mom's family couldn't afford to do much at Christmas since they were farmers with 8 children. I remember her telling me that she'd usually get a pair of socks and an orange as her presents. Because of that, she always wanted to do so much more for us. With my dad, his mom always went all out at Christmas, buying him and his brother more stuff than they would ever be able to play with. Since that's what he was used to, he wanted to make sure that his kids got the same treatment.
My parents always tried to come up with one surprise gift, either for the whole family or for us individually. One year, probably around 1980, there was a large wrapped box that appeared under the tree a couple of weeks before Christmas. My sisters and I convinced ourselves that it was a computer. Mom never let on one way or another what was in the box. On Christmas morning, she made us wait to open the big present after all the other ones. The anticipation was killing us. And since she made us wait, we just KNEW it was a computer. The three of us tore into the box, only to find that it was a leather ottoman. Mom thought it was the funniest thing when we said, "We thought this was a computer." She said, "I never said it was a computer, I just said it was a surprise."
Mom and Dad would always let us open one present on Christmas Eve. Most years we could choose which present we wanted to open. When I was about 8 years old, they told me to open a particular one. Naturally, being 8 years old, I assumed it was something big. The look on my face must have said it all, because when I opened the package I saw that it was a pair of navy blue house shoes. I tried to act excited, but they could tell otherwise. I remember Mom saying, "Your dad didn't have as good a year at work this year, and this is the best we could do." I went to bed that night feeling terrible for expecting more. The next morning after we'd opened all of our presents, Dad told me that there was one more for me to open. He brought in fairly large and heavy box. I opened it up and it was a 13" black and white television. I looked at Mom and Dad, and I could tell that they were pleased to have fooled me the night before.
When our daughters were smaller, it was easier to have several presents under the tree for them on Christmas morning. As they grew older, the number of presents decreased as their gifts got more expensive. This year, we'll have a new addition to the family - our first grandchild. While he won't know what's going on this year, I'm really looking forward to the next few years with him at Christmas.
"The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear."