It’s been an age since I’ve participated in a Flashback Friday. But now I’m back, and back just in time for the last Friday before Christmas. At least, for the last Friday before OUR Christmas.
Today Linda asks… When did you open Christmas presents when you were growing up? Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? If you traveled, did your parents take the gifts, or did you open them early or late? … Did you have stockings? What was generally in those? Were gifts simple and practical or more extravagant? Did you give presents to your parents and siblings? Were they homemade or purchased? If purchased, did you pay with your own money or did your parents pay? What are memories of special gifts you received?…
My family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve–and we’d open our gifts after the Christmas Eve candlelight service at church.
I suppose we were a rather modest family–we certainly never received hundred-dollar gifts like some people might have. But still, we generally had a nice selection of gifts–a few practical gifts, a couple toys, and the little doo-dads we kids bought each other with the dollar Mom and Dad gave us to use to buy gifts for each sibling.
Nevertheless, my favorite Christmas present ever came the year Mom and Dad didn’t have money to buy any extras.
I’m not sure what the deal was that year–maybe a car or a large appliance broke down and needed to be replaced–but money was tight. I was just developing a money awareness, and for whatever reason, I remember peaking into Mom’s checkbook after she’d written her tithe check at the end of December. I was shocked to see that the balance in her and Daddy’s checking account was $7!
With little money to purchase presents, Mom used her ingenuity to make us gifts. A picture book for Danny made with fabric and fabric paints–a story about when we go to Grandma and Grandpa’s farm. Little teepees of doweling, fabric, and more fabric paint fit perfectly with Lincoln logs and cowboys and Indians.
But the best Christmas present of all was that year when there wasn’t any extra cash. That year, Mom made us a tent.
She made it out of fabric scraps in her favorite colors of rust and tan and pumpkin and mustard and olive green. Pieces leftover from skirts or dresses she’d made herself. Pieces she’d intended for outfits for herself but had sacrificed to make our tent. Pieces obtained from family or friends. She pieced the pieces together into an enormous tent that fit over the school room table. Windows on three sides had flaps that could be rolled up and tied. The fourth side had a door that could likewise be rolled and tied.
But the crowning glory was the flag. A Tinkertoy and dowel invention poked through a grommet in the top, holding taut the peaked top. And atop the dowel flew a flag.
We spent many a day in that tent. It was a pioneer’s covered wagon, a princess’s castle, an Indian’s teepee, an adventurer’s tent. It was a house, a store, a library.
As each of us children has grown and become more financially independent, our gifts have grown in size and cost. But none of the many gifts we’ve exchanged since that day have been able to match the enjoyment we gained from that one.
Just goes to show that money isn’t everything.
Hear other people’s Christmas memories at Mocha with Linda’s Flashback Friday Meme