Thursday, December 9, 2010

Looking Back

For my second Christmas giveaway, I'll randomly draw one name from the comments to win a copy of What She Craves, which doesn't actually release until next Tuesday. 

 When I was growing up things were tough for my parents. They both worked a lot of hard hours, but there wasn't a lot of money. Actually, there was barely any. Now that I'm older I can see that they had to be pretty creative with the budget just to make ends meet. With 4 kids, three of them big, hungry boys, I can imagine that Christmas was a stressful time for them. Keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table kept them on their toes, so the holidays must have been esp. rough.

Still, I never knew that then. To me, Christmas was magic. Seeing the tree filled with all our homemade ornements, smelling my grandma's wonderful cookies in the air, counting down the days until the big day, that's what Christmas was for me. Big smiles and lots of fun.

We had our little traditions in my family too. We always watched the Charlie Brown Christmas, mom and dad always waited until after we were asleep the night before to wrap all the presents and put them under the tree. I think it was their way of keeping our child's heart alive. When morning came, my brother Bobby would come into my room and nudge me awake, then whisper, "Sissy, wake up, Santa came!" The four of us would head out to the family room and just stare at all the presents that had magically appeared overnight. After mom and dad woke up and had their coffee, we'd get the go ahead to dig in.

The truth is there weren't tons of spectacular gifts in those days. We didn't get the latest and greatest toys. I remember teddy bears and dolls with pull strings. Sometimes new mittens or a new coat. Still, each present with it's colorful paper wrapped wih a parent's love sent a flutter of excitement through me.

Now that I'm a mother, I can look back on those days and realize just how hard my parents worked to give us kids as many happy memories as possible. To maybe give us what they never had. Even when I was older and in high school, my brother would wake me on Christmas morning and whisper those wonderful words, "Sissy, wake up, Santa was here!".

Today, I still get excited on Christmas morning. My heart still flutters when I see the presents under the tree. The only difference is that now my husband and I are the ones staying up late and wrapping the night before. We're the ones keeping the magic alive for our girls. And I have my mom and dad to thank for that.

Mom, if you're reading this, and I know you are because no matter what I do you're always there to support me, I want you to know that I appreciate how hard you both worked. You kept the magic burning bright for all of us. Thank you for always making it special, even when things looked pretty bleak. I love you both! 

18 comments:

Kenzie Michaels said...

Your childhood Christmas morning sounds like mine:) My sis would wake me up; we'd go find 'our' pile, and then go wake up the parents. Dad would turn on the lights, turn up the thermostat, and start the Christmas music. Mom would get out of bed and we'd troop into the family room for stocking gifts, and then onto the tree for the 'big' ones:) Afterward, Mom would make breakfast for whoever wanted it.

Anne Rainey said...

Kenzie--That sounds wonderful! ANd I loved my mom's breakfast! She cooked a hot meal every morning without fail. :)

Tess MacKall said...

You had great parents, Anne. It's obvious from this story and your message to your mom just how great they were/are. And how much you appreciate their struggles and sacrifices.


Happy Christmas, my friend.

flchen1 said...

How blessed we are to have loving and supportive family and friends, especially this time of year :) What a wonderful lot of memories to have, Anne, and what a great legacy to be passing on to your own kids :D

My parents were and are similarly generous in spirit with us, and I hope we're doing the same for our kids...

Heather in FL said...

That's such a great story! So great you have such wonderful memories.

Early on, our Christmases were overflowing with gifts. My parents and grandparents were very generous. In later years, my mom would always say "I have to tone down Christmas this year," but it never really happened. Or at least it didn't appears so. Maybe she was making financial magic happen, lol. But Christmas has always been magical for me, too.

Anne said...

Yes, this was very much like my childhood except Santa didn't bother to wrap the gifts, just left them in separate piles due to sex and age differences, there ws never any question as to whom they belonged.

My parents did the best they could without going into debt and I think that's where some of my friends/relatives with kids are going wrong. They give their kids everything they want and put it on their credit cards causing their children to be greedy and feel entitled and place themselves (as we've recently seen) in a precarious financial situation.

Eeek! Sorry for the downer.

Natalie Dae said...

Awww. That's lovely. Particularly your brother calling you Sissy. I love stuff like that, little names people call one another that stick right into adulthood.

:o)

Harlie Reader said...

Wonderful story. My folks didn't have alot either but my little brother and I knew we were loved. My mom was always the first one up on Christmas morning. She would wake us up and tell us that Santa came. Mind you it was about 5 am when she did this. Eventually when we were in high school, my little brother told her that he wanted to be awakened around 8 am to open presents. Seriously......of course now that he's married, he wakes his kids up at the crack of dawn to open their presents. Me, I'm so excited that I have to wake my hubby up and our 5 year old son, so we can get started.

Merry Christmas to everyone...

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post, thanks for sharing. I think Christmas is more about family, togetherness, having a good time and being thankful than all the glitter, lights and expensive presents.

I'm thankful my family feels the same.

Valerie
in Germnay

Zina said...

These memories are so great, emotional, I'm a bawling baby. Anne that is one of the sweetest memories and had me remembering the sacrifices my mother made for us as a woman to feed and house us until she met and married my dad(step-dad but he's my dad to me) and my older brother who was my hero and died when I was 25. Those memories are wonderful of how he always woke you up and the feelings you had and still have. Thank you, and now I am going to try to make this Christmas and every Christmas a happy and fun one even when there is no money for presents, I can still decorate and just have fun nights with the kids. My two favorite presents when I was a kid was a box of paper dolls and a second teddy bear that I still have.

wendy said...

You and your families Christmas sounds so warm and loving.I didn't have a very nice childhood or loving parents like yours so I don't now what to write .I was with my grandma a couple of years had a couple of good Christmas with her. It is great to hear happy stories from other people like yours, your family struggle but it sounds like your parents made a wonderful life for you and your brothers.

Sweet Vernal Zephyr said...

Oh what a beautiful story! Merry Christmas and warm wishes to everyone.

Madison Scott said...

Wow! Love, love, love this! Such a wonderful story. Makes my heart happy :)

Ana said...

We didn't actually celebrate home in my house when I was younger. But one year it all turned around and we started. Our gifts weren't the most amazing either but the best thing to me about Christmas back then? And what still is my favorite thing now is the fact that I get to see all of my family (Extended included) all together for the celebration

joder said...

Things were very tough for my family too as a youngster. It never felt like a hardship then. Everything felt wonderful and loving. Now though, us still being low income feels much harder to deal with. I'm not sure why that is, but it's times like this that I think back to my childhood and a sweet story like you shared to get through the day.

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

elaing8 said...

My parents struggled to to give us the best Christmas possible.
I was always the one waking up my older siblings at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning.I appreciate everything they did to make sure we had a great day filled with great memories.

Cecile Smutty Hussy said...

OH wow, what a very interesting story. What a wonderful family!

We kinda don't have a tradition of anything at my house. Kinda unconventional I guess... ((sigh)) now I am kinda depressed reading everyone else story...

Regina Carlysle said...

Your Christmasses sound a lot like ours, Anne. Not a lot of money but as kids we didn't think about that. I remember getting a new nightgown/pj's every year, hats/gloves and little stuffed animals and dolls with pull strings.