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The Christmas Present

December 23rd, 2007 at 07:10 pm

Several years ago, I pretty much stopped indulging in Christmas for my kids. I never really had much, but I always managed toys from the Salvation Army or something. There would be so many presents that they would not all fit under the tree. The kids all got something that they really wanted even if I had to charge it. I remember several years ago, they all got IPODS. Wow, was I ever stupid.

About three years ago, this all stopped. It all stopped because of a conversation I had at work.

The girl's name was Tracy. My mom would have called her an old soul. She knew more then most people would ever know in their lifetimes. She had a lesson to teach and I listened.

Tracy had six kids. Her lifestyle was very similar to mine. Her husband was abusive. Like me, she finally left and bought her own home. Unlike me, Tracy really knew what was important in life and one day, she sat down to tell me.

Tracy told me how her family celebrates Christmas. She said that they would get up early on Christmas day and they would all dress up and go to church after breakfast. When they came home, she would cook dinner and only then, would the kids open their presents. The three oldest at home would share a present and the youngest would get one of his own. To her family the presents were the least important thing of the day.

I had never had an epiphany before and if you never had one, it kind of feels like a feeling in your stomach when you realize that you got an answer that you weren't quite ready to hear and mine almost made me sick.

I suddenly realized that I had it all wrong. Somehow, all the presents I got for my kids symbolized to me what Christmas was all about.

That year I bought each of my kids three presents. The difference in what I spent and what I budgeted for them, they got back in cash. This they couldn't understand. I didn't explain. Maybe I got something wrong.

The next year they got clothes and one present. Yes, they were absolutely shocked. It would be the first with the clothes and still, they didn't understand. It still needed some work.

In year three, I did not get them anything. I was having a hard time last year and there just wasn't any money. The charge card did not come out. Their sister bought them gifts and that was that. I told them in advance, that other then dinner and some candy in their stocking, there wasn't going to be any gifts from me. They accepted it very well and I think it was one of the more special Christmas' that we have ever had.

This year, I have not received one Christmas wish list from the kids. My youngest asked me if they were going to get a stocking for Christmas this year. I smiled and told her yes. I have received more questions about what I'm making for dinner and who is coming then about the big empty spot under the tree.

Maybe this year I finally got it right.

4 Responses to “The Christmas Present”

  1. madhaus90 Says:

    thank you for sharing this - we have four kids and this year it is three gifts for each because the Magi brought three gifts for Jesus.

  2. Broken Arrow Says:

    Since I'm divorced and have kids, Christmas has been an awkward detail that I've had to work out.... I'm really glad that you shared this because I also agree that presents aren't the biggest thing. I still have a budget to get each of them a present, but the most important thing I try to give them is quality time and happy memories.

  3. fern Says:

    I think your thoughts on this are wonderful.

  4. Lauren Says:

    That's so sweet. It's very true. My nieces and nephew get tons of stuff, not as much from their parents, but a lot from everyone else as they are the only kids in the family. I don't think they really know what Christmas is suppose to be about. Don't get me wrong, they are great kids but I think they relate Christmas more to what they get rather than what the day means (and I think it's more because of the rest of the family, including me, rather than their parents).

    Your kids sound like they really "get it", which I think is awesome.

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