Monday, November 16, 2015

Christmas past & Christmas present.

I just want to say that I love Christmas. I thought you should know that before I get going here, because I think you may not think so in a minute. Lets see, where to start..... Well as a kid we were pretty poor. Like most Americans these days we lived paycheck to paycheck. The only difference now is that many Americans now have access to Credit! But when I was a kid we had no such luxury. That means that we had to figure out  where the money would be coming from, for food and clothes, and to keep a roof over our heads. Christmas was not on our radar until it was right upon us. But I have to say even though we had some tough times, we were still surrounded by the love of our family, our church and some wonderful good Samaritans.

I remember one year my parents had been separated and we were living in an apartment with our mother. I was in 3rd grade that year, and somehow I won the turkey for Thanksgiving and at Christmas. It seemed like magic to me then. Looking back I know that we had angels looking out for us. It happened again when I was thirteen, the school's Assistant Principal came to our house one day and gave my mother a check to buy us presents for Christmas. I was old enough then to be a little ashamed at the thought that we would need charity. But now that I am a grown woman, I see how wonderful a blessing it was for all of us. My mother had been working two jobs to supports us for most of my life. I am so grateful to her for all she did to raise all four of us as a single mother. Sure there were people in her life that helped us along the way, and there were strangers/ angels that were there to lend a hand in the darkest times. No one is alone, especially at Christmas.

So we had several Christmases delivered to us by our grandparents, and some strangers during my childhood. They seemed simple, if not normal, and we didn't really seem to notice too much that we were poor, until we were older. Now comes the part that might make you think I hate Christmas, but I promise it will work out in the end.

As a plucky teenager, who was now a 90's kid, I loved music and TV and Books. I also loved Video games. This is when I found out that Christmas was not gonna bring me what my commercialistic self wanted. Yes I watched way too much TV and I ate up all the advertising that was geared toward my young mind. I wanted to wear the clothing that my peers at school were wearing. I wanted the new CD player and all the cd's to replace my tapes. I wanted the Nintendo system, and games. I wanted books and VHS movies. I would have loved a piece of jewelry. But this STUFF, was just what I wanted because I was told I wanted it.

I think I have out grown the types of advertisements that you see on TV and in print. I have graduated to internet ads that catch my eye or even emails with coupon codes can side track me for hours of bargain hunting. When I do shop online, I go through Ebates(My Referral Link) and earn cash back on all my purchases through their site. I have earned several hundred dollars in cash back over the years I have used the site. I really like how user friendly it is and they have a widget that tells you when you are on a site that earns cash back. It really is a no brainer.

All that being said, I really do hate the commercialism of Christmas. Well, all the American holidays. Have you noticed that all the stores roll out Christmas the day before Halloween? It's like Thanksgiving doesn't even exist any more. Every holiday is just another way for us to spend money on things for people that we just don't have. But with credit cards you can pay later(like all year long) and enjoy the Christmas season with out actually having the money to do so.

In our chosen way of life here on the Homestead, we choose to enjoy the holiday season by spending time together, watching old movies, and loving our friends and neighbors. It is the time of year that we all feel the Peace,Love and Joy of the Christmas spirit. I still have the desire to give actual presents to those that are close to me and that I feel make a difference in my life. I have been making all the presents that I give for several years.I have an entire board on my Pinterest Page, devoted to homemade and handmade gifts. I might spend some money on ingredients for foods I make to give, and some craft supplies as well. But the gifts I give are all made from scratch and as frugally as I can.  I think about the person I am giving a gift to. I want them to feel the love and thought and joy I get from giving them a gift. I make it personal. I want them to know that I care and that it is from my heart.
I don't want for much. I don't need to get a gift to give a gift. I do love gifts from the heart. I love food gifts and time spent with those that I love. Time is also a gift. Think about the family you don't see often and how much it means to you to see them at this time of year. Isn't it a gift? Doesn't it make you feel joy? Now that we are hours away by car, from family that we could see with a walk down the road, I feel it is such a gift to spend time with them whenever I can.  We have plans to go back to Cape Cod to spend Thanksgiving with DH's family. I am so excited to spend even that short amount of time with them. Once we have all the animals I would like to have, here on the Homestead, I can see that we won't be going anywhere soon.
Take this time to think about the people in your life that really add to your life. Those are the people that you spend time with. There will always be friends and neighbors and teachers and service people that you might want to buy for. But why don't you make their gifts. I promise you won't be disappointed by their reaction to a homemade present. I find that even a gift of a dozen fresh eggs and a note tied with twine are a great gift for almost anyone. It doesn't need to be elaborate, or cost a lot of money. It could just be a 30 min. visit with your elderly neighbor whose family are far away. Just be kind and compassionate. Don't be in a rush. Don't over book yourself and make your life complicated at a time you should just be enjoying time with those you truly care about. That's what we will be doing. I love Christmas.



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