Friday, December 21, 2012

A Memory of Christmas from Long, Long Ago

Sometimes, when I watch P. get so excited about Christmas, I'm reminded of how grateful I am that we have been able to provide her - and now her brother - with a generally happy, incredibly stable home. I didn't get to experience that kind of home growing up because the home I came from was defined over a period of years by divorce, financial hardships, and tension.

Christmas hasn't always been a happy time for me. I was bounced back and forth between my mom and my dad, alternating years so there was always someone I wasn't seeing during the holidays. And friends had parties or went caroling, but not me. Subsequent divorces led to further upheaval affecting family finances... even my living situation over the holidays.

One particular year saw me and my mother in what I think was an illegal apartment in a single-family home. One bedroom and a living room off a backdoor entrance. The kitchen was hardly more than a fridge and a sink. We literally were using an electric hot plate to make all of our meals.

I actually don't remember much about Christmas the year we were living there. It may have even been a year I traveled to spend the holidays at my dad's house. But one thing I do recall is that there wasn't room for a Christmas tree and there probably wasn't money for one, either. And it was also the first year there wouldn't be a tree at my mom's, which was so disappointing for a grade schooler.  

So I took markers and oak tag paper and made a small life-size Christmas tree complete with decorations and a toy soldier just as tall, along with things like stockings, and taped them to the wall of the tiny living room that was also my mom's bedroom.

Speaking of my mom, she has saved that oak tag Christmas tree and the toy soldier all these years. Sometimes, if my family is around while she's decorating her tree, I'll see them in with the other decorations even though we've never put them up.

It's a good reminder for me that kids are generally resilient. When parents do screw up, kids don't immediately break. Back then, it made more sense to little me to try to create Christmas out of cardboard and Crayolas than to focus on what was missing. I sometimes see P. doing the same thing, albeit on a much lighter level since she's never had to deal with deprivation or divorce. And God help me, she never will, because I want every one of our Christmases to look like this:  

christmas memories

How's your last minute Christmas prep going? I feel like I'm running at full throttle today!

10 comments:

  1. Your babbies have a good mamma. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Replies
    1. Funny to look back and see that whereas at the time... but I guess that's how it always works.

      Delete
  3. I think it's amazing that you made Christmas yourself, when it wasn't handed to you. It's a good reminder, too, when we're busy trying to make it out of everything else, that all it really needs is love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And maybe also a good thing to remember when one feels like going over budget!

      Delete
  4. I loved this post Christa- and admire you so for the beautiful way in which you shared it. I'm Jewish, my ex is not, and I got divorced a few weeks before Christmas, 12 years ago. One of the very first calls I made was to a good friend who had children around the same ages as mine. I asked her if I could bring them to her house on Christmas morning. I didn't know what her plans were or how intrusive that would be for her. All I knew was that it was Christmas and I HAD to give my now sure-to-be-screwed-up kids a good one. Have a WONDERFUL holiday - you are a great mom! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so awesome that you decided to do something like that for your kids :) You're a great mom, too!

      Delete
  5. That sounds really hard. I've never had to deal with something like that, for which I am thankful, but I do like how you were able to make yourself a tree. The closest I've come to that kind of upheaval is probably when my dad was stationed abroad for long periods of times, nearly full years. My memories are full of blind spots, I literally can't remember what he was there for and what he wasn't because he was gone for such long periods and even when he was home he sometimes worked third shift. I think that's why I'm so insistent that Chris spend as much time with the kids as he can, actually paying attention to them and not just being in the same home at the same time. Because I don't want them to have holey memories.

    ReplyDelete
  6. coming from a similar childhood experience, I share your desire to make sure our kids have happy memories to look back on. you are a wonderful mom, I see it in your pictures and read it in your words. today I learned where you go your crafting roots!

    ReplyDelete

Show me some love!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...