Thinking today about Christmases past. How hard my Mom tried to make it nice for me, my sister and brother. Having to stretch what few dollars she had. My stepfather was miserly and I really don't remember my Dad going out of his way to get us gifts.
My Mom loved playing Santa. She would put all kinds of things in our stockings, fruit and nuts at the bottom, then little things like Bonnie Bell flavored lip balm, Lifesavers, always a candy cane! When I still believed in Santa, it was always so magical to wake up on Christmas day to find my stocking on the foot of the bed. I remember waking up and then poking around with my toes until I found it. Hearing it rustle and feeling it's weight down there was so exciting. I shared a bedroom with my sister, so the first one awake always woke up the other one. We would get our brother and see what Santa left for us.
As I got older, I would lay in bed awake, waiting for "Santa". I would pretend to be asleep while my Mom would sneak in to put the stocking on the bed. It was so hard not to giggle or react. I was good and waited, well most of the time. As I got older, I would take things out to see what was in there.
We weren't allowed to come out of our rooms until my Mom and stepfather were up and had their coffee. Then we were allowed in to the living room. On Christmas eve we always had cookies and hot chocolate. It was so exciting to wait for Santa. I used to look out the window trying to see Rudolph's nose!
We had to be very careful unwrapping our gifts. My Mom would save and reuse paper, so we were not allowed to tear into our gifts. My stepfather didn't like us to show any sign of "greed".
We got gifts that would entertain us for a long time. Games, crafts, sleds,etc.. My Mom would knit or crochet hats, mittens and scarfs. She always made a delicious dinner.
As an adult, I spent a lot of money on my kids for Christmas. I always tried to make it special for them. After I had my daughter, her paternal Grandmother went crazy with gifts. She would spend so much money, especially for Sarah. I remember her first or second birthday, there were so many gifts, the tree was half covered!
As I got older and my kids aren't little anymore, Christmas became more and more stressful for me. I felt I had to buy gifts for everyone in my family. I always felt as if it was never good enough. I haven't put a tree up in about 3 years. I was always afraid of the cats breaking my ornaments and Sarah was living at her Grandmother's house.
Maybe someday I will find Christmas joy again. This year, I am just watching from the sidelines and being grateful for what I already have.