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Topic: Share Holiday Memories with PaperBackSwap

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Subject: Share Holiday Memories with PaperBackSwap
Date Posted: 12/2/2008 12:12 PM ET
Member Since: 6/7/2004
Posts: 149
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For a lot of us, this is a very special time of year.  My family celebrates Christmas; others celebrate different holidays this month that are equally meaningful to them - Eid al-adha on December 8th, Chanukah starting on the 21st, the Winter Solstice on the 22nd, Kwanzaa on the 26th...

The holidays can be as stressful as they are wonderful, and this year is going to be particularly tough, what with the recession and trying to celebrate on a budget.  And for the families who have loved ones far away, the festivities will be bittersweet.

Lately, I find myself thinking a lot about one Christmas in particular: the one when I was 16 years old.  Sixteen: not quite a grown-up but not a boy anymore.   I had just bought my own first car and I was responsible for all the expenses - gas, insurance, repairs - but I was still kid enough to want "fun stuff" at Christmas.   The country was going through a recession then, just as it is now, and money was very tight; my siblings and I didn't expect too much in terms of presents.  But still...  

I remember my initial reaction when I saw that the only present under the tree for me was 2 new car tires!   After the initial disappointment, I realized what that gift actually meant.  My tires were bald; my dad didn't want me to have an accident; my safety was more important to him than anything.    Now that I am a lot older and (I hope) a little wiser, I appreciate the thoughtfulness of that gift more than ever.  Looking back on those Christmas tires just provides more proof that the memories that matter don't have to do with material things.  We devote a lot of time to shopping at this time of year, but long after the "stuff" is gone, the intangible things are what stay with us through the years and make us smile.  


I bet many of you have similar stories, of a "lean" holiday that nonetheless gave you some of the most special memories of all.   We would love it if you would share them here...

Date Posted: 12/2/2008 10:37 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2006
Posts: 2,009
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I grew up in the 50's.  Back then, us kids didn't have Playstations or cell phones or ANY of the things kids have now.  We lived in a small city, in a 10-family tenament house.  My father worked two jobs and my mother was  your typical stay-at-home mom.  We lived on the third floor, and on the first floor lived my favorite aunt.  

One Christmas Eve when I was 8, we went to another aunt's house who lived a few towns over.  It was late when we got home, and as soon as we walked in the door I remember saying "Mommy, did you hide all the presents before we left?"  All the presents that were so carefully wrapped and placed under our Christmas tree were GONE!  The police came and made out a report, and when my aunt downstairs saw the police cars outside she came running upstairs.  She told us how she was outside sweeping some snow off the sidewalk when she saw two men come out of our building.  They wore dark clothes and hats pulled down over their eyes.  They were both holding stacks of presents wrapped up in rope.  My aunt said her first  thought was, "How nice!  Someone is going to have a wonderful Christmas!"  Little did she know that those were OUR presents walking down the street.

Now, being it was Christmas Eve you would have thought that our Christmas was ruined.  But that wasn't to be the case.  Because the next morning when I woke up there were presents under the tree!  When our neighbors saw the police cars they  came outside to see what happened, then they all went home and came back with small wrapped gifts for us.  (I was already asleep so I wasn't aware of this!).  There were books, handmade crocheted dolls, baskets of fruit and nuts, and lots of cookies and cakes!

It may not have been the Christmas I had wished for, but knowing that our neighbors cared so much about us gave me such a warm feeling that I carried it with me my entire life.  My Christmas that year may not have been filled with Barbie dolls or other toys, but it WAS filled with more love than I had ever experienced.

Subject: Christmas Memory
Date Posted: 12/2/2008 10:58 PM ET
Member Since: 5/28/2006
Posts: 2
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I believe I was about 8 or 9 when I learned a huge lesson about what I guess now we would call Karma. In my family, keeping secrets about gifts that may be coming was paramount. Everything was very "hush, hush". When I would verbalize my Christmas list to my mother, beg or whine in anyway within the month preceding Christmas, my mother, the singer, would burst into the song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". The really hot doll that season was "Betsy Wetsy". My sister, Ann, three years my junior, and I both wanted one. This ages me a bit. This was one of the first of the vinyl dolls that actually wet her diaper when you fed her a bottle of water. I had long known the hiding place in the back of my parent's closet, but had never ventured a peak as I had been threatened with coal in my stocking in place of the wished for gifts. I guess I must have been entering those years of doubt, posing questions to myself such as; "How will Santa Claus know anyway?" or "Is there really a Santa?" So this year I did it. I peeked. And what do you suppose I found? MY Betsy Wetsy doll in all her plastic glory. On Christmas morning my sister and I were aglow with excitement. Presents were handed out one by one very slowly by my father purposely to build our excitement to bursting. I had plotted and planned how I would feign surprise when I opened my special gift. Imagine my shock when my sister was the recipient of the coveted Betsy Wetsy! I remember nothing else about that day. I can't recall even a single gift that I was given. What I do remember was that I secretly swore to myself that I would never, never peek again. To this day, I refuse to touch any gift that may lay under the tree for me until it is time to open it. No shaking, no sniffing, no guessing. The memory of my disappointment that day stuck with me and I learned my lesson. Deceit and dishonesty always brings unexpected results and hard lessons. Mele Kalikimak from Maui Jeanne D.
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 2:36 AM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,805
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I have so many Christmas memories that it is hard to find just one to share.   But I'll tell one on my mama that amazes me still today.

Mama always worried about money at Christmas time as well as other times.  She had nine children and even getting one gift each took more than she and Daddy had some years.  One year was particularly bleak.  There just was NO cash to buy toys for the little ones.   My Mama went to the smoke house where Daddy always smoked his hams!  And she took some of those hams to town and sold them on the street corner.   I can hardly imagine her humilation of doing that.   But she sold them and she bought toys for the kids and some warm clothing too.

A few weeks later Daddy went to the smoke house to get a ham for mama to cook.  He came in raging MAD.  Screaming that someone had stolen his hams.  He went on and on and on.   My older sister, who knew what Mama had done asked her, "Mama, are you going to let Daddy think someone stole his hams?"    Mama got real quiet and then said, "yes I am, because someone did!"    I don't think my daddy ever knew it was mama who took our hams.  It was one of the few times in her life that she ever kept anything from him. 

While I was one of the little kids and had no idea what was going on at the time, when I hear this story I always feel so touched.  Mama would do anything for her kids.   She knew we didn't expect much but she was determined to make sure we had something.  I often think about her standing on that street corner and know that was one of the most difficult things she ever did. 

Subject: A Special Christmas
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 6:37 AM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2007
Posts: 1
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I grew up in the direst kind of poverty. In my earliest memories, my family (mother, father, 11 children) lived in an abandoned street car. From there, we moved into what we called "The Burnt Place," which was exactly that, an old farmhouse that had burned and was not rebuilt - stairs that went nowhere, rooms without ceilings--but, plenty of room, at least, fresh air, a garden. It was definitely a step up for us.

This was the tail end of the depression, the beginning of WW II. My oldest brother was killed in the war. There was some insurance money, and my mother used that to buy us our own little farm. I was about 7 years old when we moved into the first house we'd ever owned, at least in my memory. It was also the first place I had ever lived in with electricity. We moved just before Christmas. My father and the oldest boys went into the woods nearby and cut down a Christmas tree. There was no money for gifts, but my mother bought a string of lights to decorate the tree and made candy. That was our entire Christmas, but I can still remember clearly sitting amidst a room full of unpacked boxes, admiring our beautiful Christmas tree with its multicolored lights, and singing carols together. It was a magical occasion.

Victor J. Banis


Subject: Christmas Secrets
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 8:49 AM ET
Member Since: 9/24/2007
Posts: 33
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We did not live in abject poverty, but, all my young life, my Dad worked hard, sometimes 3 jobs until all the kids were in school and Mom took a part time job to give him some relief. Money was always tight, but we never went without whatever was needed.

I was still living at home, but had just started a new job a couple of months before Christmas when I was 18. It was a very eventful year, some good stuff like my sister's marriage, and some bad stuff, like my sister moving away,  my Grand Parents moving in with us, and Grandpa's passing. After Thanksgiving, when My dad asked me what I wanted for Christmas I said, "Oh whatever, nothing, it doesn't matter." He insisted by saying, "No really, what do you WANT?" I jokingly replied with the most frivolous thing I wanted - an AM/FM + 8 Track + Record Player Stereo Multi-Plex System - laughing as I said it because that was over $100 and we NEVER gave big expensive gifts.

I, truthfully, didn't think about it again until I got home from work around 11:30 PM Christmas Eve and everyone was still up - waiting for me. They were having a party and it was great. After midnight my Dad wanted to open presents which was unusual since we always did that after going to bed and then getting up on Christmas Day, but there were no more little children in the family to wonder about Santa, so I figured what the heck. We opened all the gifts - sweaters, socks, some knick-knacks, goodies, and what-not - it was all good, then my Dad looked at my Mom and said, "Oh there was one that didn't fit under the tree and led me back to my room and there it was! The Multi-Plex System I had mentioned the month before! It was all set up ready to go. After my initial excitement and effluent thanks we all played some music and eventually went to bed.

The next morning when I got up I felt kind of bad because my 14 year old brother hadn't received anything near to the value of the Multi-Plex System and even though he didn't express any disappointment, It MUST have been in the back of his mind that I got so much and he didn't. When I expressed my dismay to my Mom, she was startled and ran to wake up my brother telling him he had to get up. After some complaints from Tommy that it was too early (sunrise) Mom said something to him that made him jump up an run out the back door. . . very strange. Mom told me to put my coat on and go out front. There was my brother in his PJs sitting on a brand new Honda 100 Motorcycle. He'd had it for over  a month but couldn't tell anybody until Christmas. He'd kept the secret for so long, it slipped his mind the night before while we were all partying to my stereo. He got dressed and loaded up a HUGE Plush Tiger, strapped behind him like a passenger to take to a contemporary of his who, lived a few miles away - a gft from the both of us. He had a lot of stops to make that day to show off his new motorcycle so we did not see him again for quite a while.

When we called my sister in California and told her all about the surprises and secrets and fun we had, she only said, "Hey! I wasn't THAT expensive was I? I leave and all of a sudden y'all give BIG costly presents?" It turned out that the money came from Grandpa's estate. We used most of it to pay for the addition we'd built on to the house so there would be room for Grandpa & Grandma, but my parents decided to splurge with the remainder and make it the biggest Christmas ever. They also bought 2 new cars, but I thought they went into debt for those - so glad they didn't. It was so nice to have a happy time at Christmas after the recent sad events.


Subject: Greatest Intangible Christmas gift
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 8:58 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2008
Posts: 2
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I was raised by creative and somewhat broke hippies in Baltimore, MD.  My father's love of writing and nature combined to produce my most wonderful Christmas ever in 1983.

I was 8 and it was the year I was starting to think that Santa was a myth.  We had the typical Christmas morning, with my brother and I waiting at the top of the stairs until my parents had gotten their coffee and then running into the living room.  Big fluffy tree, fire blazing, toys, stockings, and the letters from Santa.  It was my father's tradition to write letters to my brother and I from Santa.  They commented on our accomplishments from that year, our behavior, and always told us to be kinder to our sibling.  This year, though, there was a wonderful PS.

We had alway left carrots for the reindeer, and cookies and whiskey for Santa.  Note the hippie part above - Dad told us Santa got cold and was lactose intolerant, so he liked whiskey better.  At the close of this year's letter it read, "PS - Thanks for the carrots.  Sorry the reindeer pooped on the roof."  I ran up the two flights of stairs to the attic window that faced the roof.  There I found tromped down snow and about 4 or 5 neat piles of poop.  My doubts were quelled and I again believed in Santa.  

I later found out that my father had taken an empty Folgers can and a spoon on a recent hike at Loch Raven Resevoir and had collected "scat".  He stomped around on the roof and left sprinklings to make sure I would believe for at least one more year.  

I worked wonders.


Last Edited on: 12/3/08 8:58 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: When my spouse returned home from deployment
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 9:46 AM ET
Member Since: 11/20/2008
Posts: 2
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I meet my now husband back when he first signed up for the NAVY. We meet through my friend and his room mate, and we immediately hit it off. I hadn't known how much I would want to be with someone and travel until I met him. So years go by, we were married had moved to another state and he was to go to a ship at the Norfolk,VA  pier. At first we both did ok when he went to sea for just a few weeks at a time. But before long his ship was set to go out for a 6 1/2 month cruise. It was the most emotionally dificult time I have gone through as an adult.

That December I visited my family alone while he was still at sea. I was missing him, and even though we would e-mail each other he did call once every week so we could talk. But if anyone has been parted by their loved one you know how it feels when you don't want the phone call to end - it was never enough time. So - I was with my family and the 25th was a beautiful snowy morning in New England that year and my parents are up making breakfast and the dogs are rowdy and other family members are calling..... and I was just sad, my spouse wasn't there.

Well to my surprise my hubby called that morning before 10am my time, and he had a surprise for me - he had sent a gift to my folks home for me to open.  I thought "Forget the gift! You called!" what I said through tears was "Thank you my man, what a surprise!" and he was able to talk to me for a precious 45 minutes that morning. My folks said it was the happiest they had seen me since my arrival.

He has since let his contract expire and is out of the service, and we are happily living as civilains. We have had 8 wonderful years together so far with a lifetime more to come. I still have my gift from that holiday - I held it dear to me until he returned that next year from cruise, knowing it was something he had held and then sent my way.

Subject: My favorite Memory
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 10:07 AM ET
Member Since: 11/19/2007
Posts: 1
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While my parents have always given me lots of things for Christmas(I'm an only child) one of my favorite memories doesn't come from anything I got.

Christmas was always at my grandparents house and I was the only kid until I was 5 when my cousin Chelsea was born. Chelsea and I were not your typical kids. The adults would get tired of waiting for us to get up to open presents so they would wake us up for them. One year, when I was 5 or 6 my dad who is an early riser came running in to my room to tell me to hurry and wake up so I could see Santa. He was gone of course but the milk and cookies were gone and there was "raindeer poop" in the yard. My dad and grandpa had gotten up and set things up so I would have a magical christmas. I ended up staying awake and sitting and drinking coffee and eating cookies with them until everyone else got up.

I still remember my dad telling me to wake up and then stitting in the kitchen with him and my grandpa.


Subject: Lean Christmas
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 10:12 AM ET
Member Since: 11/27/2008
Posts: 2
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I remember a lean Christmas when I needed to buy a present for a co-worker.  I picked an inexpensive small flashlight which was about the only thing I could afford.  I was really ashamed of this modest gift and I was dreading the exchange moment.  Well, long story short: it turns out that my co-worked had purchased the exact same gift for me!  We laughed about it, and started talking about the tought economic times we were going through and became great frineds.

Subject: My Dad
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 10:57 AM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2008
Posts: 1
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Well I grew up in Dublin Ireland in a council house, the 80's were a very lean time for Ireland, but christmas was always the most magical thing before we emigrated to New Zealand (its kinda different with christmas being in summer and all), some snow (just enough to throw around) and lots of cousins and family get togethers. My favourite memory is actually sort of the absence of a bad one in a way. From my earliest memory our Christmases were full of fun, laughter joking and singing, and like some of the other stories I don't remember too much about what I actually got, apart from when I got a bike, which was second hand, but I didn't care it was the best. Oh and skates, I can't forget those. At the time I was eldest of 3, with a bazillion aunties and uncles and cousins, my nana tells me that my mum would never buy anything for herself but I found out last year that one of those christmases was particularly tight and my dad actually sold his car so that he could get us gifts. I don't know for how long but he had to walk and catch a train to work in the cold because of that. It was also his dream car, a light blue brand new ford escort, I laugh about it now but he had been wanting one of those for a long time apparently! Well everytime I think about it it makes me cry, I always knew my parents loved me and we had some tough times with my parents eventually splitting and one staying in New Zealand while the other returned to Ireland. It meant really long absences from either parent and being split from siblings for a while. I am now the eldest of 6 by the way. But I was always a believer in magic and fairytales and in how everybody is good on the inside, and my dad went to extraordinary lengths to preserve that beautiful world that I believed in, letting me be a carefree kid for a bit longer and I will never forget how much he loves me. I still go gaga for christmas, I think for all the right reasons :)
Subject: Extreme White Christmas
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 11:36 AM ET
Member Since: 6/22/2008
Posts: 5
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In the mid 1960s, my family lived in Utah and we made the long drive back to our home town of Washington, D.C., for Christmas.  As we passed through Kearney, Nebraska, we were caught in the worst blizzard to hit the area in decades.  We knew we couldn't make it to our next scheduled stop, and we were so happy to see a familar site looming through the flurries -- a  Holiday Inn. We pulled in and got the last room in the hotel. Many people died along the shoulder of the highway that night, but we were safe and so grateful. The next morning, the lobby was filled with travelers sleeping on the floors and in the hallways. The hotel had let everyone stop and rest and served them whatever juice and bread they had, for breakfast.  That morning, my Mom and Dad purchased gifts from a toy vending machine at the truck stop across the road. We stayed in the hotel two days -- over Christmas -- and played with our inexpensive new toys.  My parents built forts out of blankets and chairs and we played "Fort" for hours. We gathered in the lobby to sing carols with other stranded travelers. We children thought it was the grandest, most fun we'd ever had, and only years later, did my parents tell me how many people died on the side of the roads that night. We were  and remain so fortunate.

Last Edited on: 12/3/08 11:39 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Most memorable Christmas from my youth
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 11:41 AM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2008
Posts: 1
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One Christmas year before I was 8, though I don't remember how old I was, each of the children in our home received either a kitchen utensil or a food item for Christmas. After we'd all opened our gifts we realized that together they all made a meal and so with great fun all the kids prepared a meal during the holiday. With 9 kids and living on an almost self-sufficient farm we had a few precious items that we gave to each other each year. I think each of us at least once were the recipient of a tiny cedar chest with Skyline Caverns imprinted on the top. I wish I had that chest today as it was such a sweet little symbol of the sharing we experienced during those hard times.

Through even the most desparate years there was one tradition that carried on, every night after every child was asleep our mother would slip a wrapped book under each pillow. Many of us carry that tradition on with our own children. It started as a way to keep nine children in bed on Christmas morning until a reasonable hour but has carried on as we all love books and reading.

Valerie in Washington State, by way of D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota.

Subject: Santa Claus is the Gas Man??!
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 12:37 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2008
Posts: 1
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When I was five my mother, father, brother, and myself lived in a sharecropper shack in a little town in Georgia. The house was so run down that the owners turned it into a hay barn after we moved. The house worked for us though, because my Dad and Mom would help take care of the farm animals and the vegetable fields to help pay some of the cost of rent. Both of my parents worked full time at dead end-minimum wage jobs, but my Dad was in college to become a psychologist. My parents say that this particular year was the worst Christmas (financially) that they remember. This is the story of how that Christmas was made into the best Christmas I have ever had. My Mom and Dad told my three year old brother and I that they would not be buying us presents this year because we were going to share a really great present as a family. Gas in our propane tank. My parents had tried heating the house with little electric heaters, but it didn't work and our toilet froze and fell through the floor. So it was not for lack of trying to buy us presents, they just new that heat was more important. So on Christmas Eve. the Gas Man came. His name was Mr.Golden. He walked in the house to light the pilot and saw my brother and I playing in our room, which doubled as the living room. I was only five, but I remember this like it was yesterday. Mr.Golden asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I thought about it and knowing that I would not receive any toys that year I decided on something else. I told Mr.Golden that I wanted a Honey baked Ham like the one you see on TV so that my family could have a great Christmas. Mr.Golden just smiled and returned to his work. I don't know if he spoke with my parents and found out the situation or just knew because of our living conditions and because of my humble reply, but the next day, Christmas; Mr.Golden and his wife showed up at our house. Mr.Golden was carrying a bag and Mrs.Golden was carrying a dish with aluminum foil covering it. When they came inside I couldn't believe what was happening. The bag was full of toys for my brother and I. The dish had a beautiful Honey Baked Ham inside. That year Santa Claus was the Gas Man. I have never since been able to top the experience of that Christmas. I am only 23 now but I doubt I ever will. My husband and I have two children now and every year we buy presents as a family for children who are in foster care or in a group home. Mr.Golden is the reason for this. My children will grow up knowing the story of his kindness to my family. An event that changed my outlook on Christmas forever and hopefully will always come to their memory during this season as well. I pray that it encourages them to follow his and his dear wife's example. Mr.Golden and Mrs.Golden were not rich, but they took what they had and gave. I hope that all of us, even during this recession will take what we have (no matter how small)and give. There is no limit to the amount of lives it could affect.  Danielle

Subject: Most Memorable Christmas
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 1:18 PM ET
Member Since: 8/8/2006
Posts: 2
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My most memorable Christmas as a child/teenager was a sad year for our family.  Christmas had always been a big blowout for our parents, with them splurging on huge quantities of gifts for us.  I viewed Christmas as a wonderful day of getting, getting, getting.  The year that I turned 16, things changed.  My father died in the fall of the year after a painful battle with cancer.  That year, I never thought about what I would be getting for Christmas; I was focused on making Christmas Day enjoyable for my mother.  What would SHE like for Christmas?  How could I help her?  I won't claim to have done a good job of helping her through her first Christmas as a young (though I didn't realize it then!) widow, but that experience drew me out of my adolescent self-preoccupation.  Later, I realized that I had actually enjoyed that Christmas more than any I could remember.  Focusing on my mother's needs distracted me from my own grief and gave me a new joy that turned out to be the best gift of all. 

Subject: especially memorable
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 2:27 PM ET
Member Since: 6/8/2008
Posts: 3
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Two Christmas' stand out for me...this year we bought 4 NEW tires for the daughter's car...not that we can really afford it, but like you said, we want her to be safe.

The one Christmas that stands on it'sown for me was the year I wanted the Kodak Instamatic 44 camera. I so wanted it, I could nearly taste it.  I didn't babysit yet and $5 a month for allowance would mean months before i would get it.  I opened all the gifts...a camera case and film and figured that I was to buy the camera....then amidst  the boxes for the parents my dad pulled the one marked for me and it was the camera!.

I will never forget it.

Mom and Dad are gone now, but they are still with me this time every year!


Subject: My favoritie Christmas
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 4:41 PM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2008
Posts: 2
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For years I have told the story of my favorite Christmas which was the year I had no money.  I went without lunch for a week in order to buy six nice cards to send to my family, and even that was a stretch.  The great thing was I didn't have to go running around trying to buy and send gifts or participate in any way in all the madness around me.  I had time to go to lots of free concerts sponsored by the local churches, take walks on the beach, read inspiring books from the library and visit friends who were going crazy dealing with the busyness of Christmas.  I had the time to truly enjoy the season and what it means.  Now when I don't have time to even catch my breath this time of year, I remember back to my favorite Christmas and rekindle those feelings.

Subject: My favorite Chrismas memory
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 4:52 PM ET
Member Since: 11/13/2007
Posts: 1
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My most memorable Christmas was the year my father had the flu - I was probably about 5 or 6. It was a monumental occurrence because it meant that he was actually home. Normally, he worked overtime for the extra money so to have him in the house was really special.

As can be expected, I didn't have money to buy gifts but wanted to give my daddy something wonderful, especially since he was so sick!!! I remember getting a small box from somewhere and sitting on the floor at the foot of my bed thinking about all the great things about my daddy and how much fun we always have together. Then I folded up my arms, pushed all those thoughts into the box and quickly closed the lid. I wrapped it up and tied it with a big bow.

On Christmas morning, with all the family gathered around (I've got 5 older brothers and sisters), my dad finally got to my gift. He carefully unwrapped it and looked inside the box. What a look of amazement on his face when he looked at me and said with a question "It's empty?" All my brothers and sisters started laughing and I jumped up to explain --- "It's a box of my love" He said it was the best gift he ever got. And I believe it was the best I ever gave.
Subject: Christmas Past
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 5:05 PM ET
Member Since: 5/28/2007
Posts: 1
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One Chirstmas that really stands out for me was actually in 2001. At the time, my two children were 7 and 8  and we had NO money for presents. We had bought a couple of very small things and were trying to figure out what we would do to make things not so lean looking on Christmas morning. My husband had walked to a store nearby 2 nights before Christmas and on the way back, spotted some huge trashbags in this field he passed by. Upon investigating, he found that these trashbags were filled with stuffed animals! As they had obviously been thrown out, he made a couple of trips back and forth to haul them home. We spent hours going through them and found that nearly all of them were in perfect condition. After cleaning them and separating the ones that were not so great, we had over 30 stuffed animals!  When the kids got up on Christmas morning, they found the tree surrounded by these stuffed animals and were absolutely delighted. It might not have been much compared to getting video games and whatever, but you would have thought that it was a magical Christmas when seen through their eyes. Even now, at 15 and 16 years old, they talk about that Christmas. We were just so relieved that,somehow, they were just meant to have a Christmas after all.

Subject: Babies are born at Christmas
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 5:23 PM ET
Member Since: 6/6/2008
Posts: 2
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My husband and I heard of a 28 yr old who had just lost her husband in November.  She was 9 months pregnant and destitute.  My husband dressed as Santa and arrived at her house on Christmas Eve in his red truck. 

He knocked on her door and when she answered he said HO HO HO ! and proceeded to walk in the house with the stroller, car seat, and diapers.  As she is asking "Who are you?"  He delivered the baby bed, baby bath, layette and everything else she would need with a new baby.  She kept asking "Who are you?".  My husband looked at her dumbly and said "I'm Santa Claus".  (e said he really wanted to say "I'm Batman!!!")

To this day she has no idea who her Santa Claus was.  She was just someone who needed help and the season spirit made it our mission to  help her.



Date Posted: 12/3/2008 7:08 PM ET
Member Since: 10/1/2008
Posts: 1
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Back in the mid 1980's I was working full time and going to school full time with three young children. Money was very tight and
my Christmas budget was rather small. Cabbage Patch dolls were popular at the time and I knew that my little girls wanted one. I lived in a small town with one WalMart and by the time I got home from work and school, any dolls that had been delivered to the store were gone. There were people who would buy them and then sell them at a much inflated price. I could barely afford to pay the store's price and could not even begin to pay the price these people were asking. One night after yet another unsuccessful trip to the store trying to find the dolls, one of the sales associates took me aside and told me that they were getting a shipment in that night and that they would be on the store shelves the next morning. I have never been one to go stand in line to be the first to have something, but I knew that this Christmas was going to be rather "slim" and the only thing the girls had asked for was one of these dolls. So, I got up early the next morning and stood outside the doors and was the first person in the store. Sure enough, I was able to buy two Cabbage Patch dolls (one for each of my daughters). My son had wanted a BB gun which was easy to find. After purchasing these items, there was really not much money for any other gifts. I bought some little doll diapers for fifty cents a package at the dollar store for the girls and a package of BB's for my son. Christmas Eve night when I put the few packages under the tree, I cried. It looked like so little. However, my son woke at 3:00 a.m. Finding the presents under the tree, he flew to wake up his sisters and they all came running to my bed exclaiming that Santa Clause had already been to our house. We all got up (who could go back to sleep knowing that Santa had visited?) I made hot cocoa and they all opened their presents. My daughters truly beieved in Santa because only he could have gotten those Cabbage Patch dolls for them. My son, a little older and "wiser," just smiled. Future Christmas mornings would be much more bountiful as far as quality and quantity of presents go, but my children (all in their 30's now) still remember that as the best Christmas ever. The dolls are long gone as is the BB gun, but the memory of us all getting up at 3:00 a.m., opening presents and drinking hot cocoa will last forever.

Subject: Yes, Kathy, there is a Santa Claus
Date Posted: 12/3/2008 9:09 PM ET
Member Since: 1/26/2008
Posts: 2
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The year I was 6, I was pretty sure there was no Santa.  When you are the baby of the family, the youngest by 5 & 7 years, it's hard to keep the truth; the older kids tend to let the truth slip.

Early Christmas morning, about 6 AM, I heard a noise, and got up to look.  We had a sliding door from the hallway into the family room, and I inched the door open to look.  There was my brother, who was 11 at the time, with Daddy's shoes on his hands.  Mike was putting the shoes in the fireplace, and then "walking" on the floor, to leave footprints, from the fireplace to all around the tree and presents.

I slipped back to my bed, and waited until the rest of the family got up.  The milk and cookies left for Santa were now gone(although still there while I watched  "Santa"), and Mom was commenting about the mess that Santa had left on the floor.

It was years and years before I told my family about seeing Mike; I am now 54 years old, and I still know there is a Santa Claus...he is also known as Love.

Date Posted: 12/4/2008 9:12 AM ET
Member Since: 3/1/2007
Posts: 2
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In 1989 I was 11 and my mom was a single parent with 3 kids (my dad died in a car accident when I was 4), money was extremely tight and my mom had to pawn or sell most of what we had to keep the bills paid. We didn't have a tv and all I had were books and a radio for entertainment. My mom told us that year for Christmas we wouldn't be getting anything and reminded us that our dad usually only received a single set of pajamas for Christmas every year and never any toys because his family was so large and they were very poor. I told her we didn't need anything, we already had lots of toys and I didn't really like them anymore anyway, I was happy with all the books I was able to get at the second hand bookstore for a quarter (or trade in 2 for 1). Well, we woke up that Christmas morning and some members of the church we attended 30 miles away in Tulsa had taken their morning to drive out to our house and had a vehicle packed with a tv, gifts of all kinds (I remember specifically the nail kit I got), and groceries so my mom could make a ham dinner for us. That is the only Christmas morning I really remember as all the others blend together. For Christmas in general the only other one I remember is when we made all the tree decorations ourselves which consisted of the construction paper chain and strung popcorn.

Date Posted: 12/4/2008 12:40 PM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2008
Posts: 1
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When I was small, My father did all the shopping  as my mother did not drive.  He would always wait until Christmas Eve because he worked long hours everyday but Sunday.  We were always so excited when he was home on Christmas Eve because we knew it was really time for Christmas.  One year he had to work very late on Christmas Eve.  As most stores were closed early for the Holiday, it looked like there would be no presents.  Still, my father doggedly when out past midnight Christmas morning to find ANY store that was open.  What he found was a 24 hr Walgreens.  In those days they did not have the vast toy isle they do today.  My father, sad and dejected, brought home an odd assortment of toiletries, jewelry, and small toys.  When we opened our small cache that year, I was  just as blessed with our box of colorful band-aids as with my plastic pop beads necklace.  To this day I remember the excitement of the little gifts we got that year.   However, I remember this time for the sacrifice my father made to get out so late just to have something for us to unwrap and not for the amount of money he spent on getting that must have toy.  My father had given us a treasure beyond the value of the gifts he brought.  He showed us that its the act of giving that is important, not the gifts you give.

Date Posted: 12/4/2008 5:55 PM ET
Member Since: 10/1/2007
Posts: 2,380
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My parents were married on Christmas Eve and were together for 47 years before my father passed away.  Every year for Christmas he bought her a 5# box of assorted chocolates starting on their wedding day.  It was always a big moment, we all knew it was coming, but still it was a special moment when Dad would bring out the box of candy for her.  The first Christmas after he was gone, we were sitting around opening presents, feeling our loss, and not knowing how to get through the rest of the day.  Michael, one of my brothers left the room and when he returned he had  a 5# box of assorted chocolates in his hand and he handed them to my mother.  There wasn't a dry eye in the house.