I have many great memories from Christmas’ past and although I know everyone is busy doing last minute preparations, I figured at some point you would have time to sit down and read a little so I want to share some of them with you.
When I was little, I used to go to my grandmother’s house every weekend. My grandmother was a scavenger, so to speak. She gathered up all sorts of “free” stuff to use to make things. We spent weekends on scavenging excursions, going by people’s houses to pick up stuff they had to give her, waiting for people to drop stuff off, and I can even remember her putting me over into the dumpsters behind the shopping mall to dig out any good stuff that the stores might have thrown away.
All during the year she gathered the things that other people threw away and made different stuff out of it. She collected broken dolls, used up coloring books, empty baby food jars, ladies stockings, and old clothes just to name a few things. She was very artistic and could make anything. Most of the dolls back then had “pop on” parts to them. The arms, the legs and the head all popped on and off. She would collect dolls with missing parts and had trunks full of them. Some weekends we would spend the day piecing whole dolls back together. Once we got several whole dolls again, she would repaint the faces on them and make new clothes for them.
She would take the clothes people gave her and we might spend days, taking the buttons, snaps and zippers off of them all and then cutting different sized squares out of the material. She did small squares for quilting and bigger squares for different sewing projects. She would use pictures out of the coloring books for patterns. She might take the picture of a bird that covered the entire page and make a pattern out of it. She would cut the bird out in material from the clothes, and sew it together. We would cut up the stockings in pieces and use those to stuff the bird. Once it was stuffed and sewn shut, she would paint in the details with these tubes of paint she had. She would make lots of these little stuffed animals throughout the year.
There was an old factory next door to her house that made the fancy striped stick candy. One morning she saw one of the guys throwing out candy in the back. She went and talked to him and found out that they threw out any broken pieces. She got them to give her the broken stuff and so every morning she got a delivery of broken stick candy. She would take the baby food jars and decorate them into little Santa Clauses and fill them with the broken candy.
She did many other things like this through out the year and boxed the stuff up. By Christmas, you could barely get into her house because of the boxes every where. At Christmas time, she would take me with her and we would go on deliveries. She would have boxes filled with stuffed animals that went to orphaned children. The Santa Claus jars of stick candy went to the elderly in different homes and hospitals. She made quilts and mended clothing and had gifts for literally hundreds of people over the Christmas holidays. None of it cost her anything accept for her time and her wonderful talents. She taught me at a very young age what a gift it is to give.
A year or so after my grandmother passed away, I remember going to bed with no Christmas tree and no gifts and hearing mom crying in her bedroom. Mom was divorced with five children and though I really didn’t understand what was going on myself, mom was flat broke and truly depressed.
My oldest brother was about fifteen and had gotten a part time job after school. He was still at work when we went to bed that night. In the middle of the night, I woke up to beautiful lights dancing across the hard wood floors in the living room. I got up and peeked around the corner to find my brother wrapping gifts in the living room. Mom didn’t know, but he had been saving up his little bit of money from his part time job and after everyone went to bed that night he came in and put up a tree and decorated it and had bought each of us a gift. I didn’t realize how special it was then, but mom would tell that story for many years to come with great pride and many tears. It was the year that my brother saved Christmas for her.
Many years later after I was grown and had children of my own, I took the kids and we went to visit my sister a couple of days before Christmas one year. She had three children of her own and had been living in an abusive marriage for years. I hadn’t seen her in a while. When we got there, she was living in an old trailer and was barely getting by. She had nothing for Christmas for the kids and was extremely depressed. I gave her some money and left and cried all the way home.
When we got home the kids went up stairs and I listened to them rambling around up there for the next couple of hours. I had no idea what they were doing so after a while I went up to see. They had been going through all of their toys and belongings and had cleaned stuff up to make it look new again and had been busy little elves wrapping gifts for their cousins. We were doing pretty well then ourselves and they had a lot of nice stuff. They had picked out different things for each of my sisters kids and told me they wanted to make the trip back to my sisters house. We loaded up the car and headed back over there.
I realized that day that my children had learned the gift of giving. They were so happy to give their stuff away that day and my sister and her children had a very nice Christmas that year. I can’t remember a moment that I was more proud than I was that day.
My son has since taught that gift to his daughter. Every year before Christmas, they go through all of her toys and clean stuff up and take it and donate it. At six, she has been taught to understand that not all children are as fortunate as she is and she looks forward to making her donations every year.
This year my other grand daughters learned the value of those donations. The girls (that live with me) knew that I hadn’t had the money to spend on Christmas. They also knew that Ms. Donna has done quite a bit for them. Their grandfather sent them gift cards for Walmart in the mail the other day. I asked them what they wanted to do with the money and they said that they knew they were going to have a nice Christmas already, so they wanted to take their money and shop for other people that were doing for them. I took them to Walmart night before last and they spent it all on everyone else so they would have gifts to give. I was so proud of them. Yesterday morning the lady from DHR called and asked me to bring them down there because she had gifts for them. We went and you would not believe the bags of gifts she sent us home with. Their giving came back to them just that quick and they saw it for what it was. Hailey told me that she hoped that next year we would be able to do the donating for other kids instead of being the ones to need the donations.
I can’t tell you how blessed I have felt this year. I was so worried about what I was going to do when I first got these kids. I wasn’t prepared for it at all. It has been a struggle, but at every turn, God has provided what was needed. Angels have come out from every where since the day that I got them and the girls and I will spend this Christmas in a warm cozy home with a beautiful Christmas tree, plenty of gifts, good food and lots and lots of love. I hope that your Christmas is as blessed and wonderful as mine is already this year.
God Bless you all and Merry Christmas to you.