Everywhere I listen I hear that the recession is getting better, but I don’t see it. Many of my friends and family are underemployed, have been unemployed for large periods of time this year, or even worse are currently unemployed. When you go into stores this time of year you can get depressed if you don’t have the money to buy things. Everything is bright and shiney and is almost audibly calling out, “Buy me! I will make your kids/spouse/friends/family happy! You NEED me to have a great Christmas!”
I’m here to tell you that’s not true. My memories of Christmases growing up involve the time my mom and dad took to do things with me. I really can’t tell you what presents I got when (unless I go back and look at my journals!), but I can tell you that my parents took time every year to make things special for us.
One special thing we would ALWAYS do and continue to do is bake Christmas cookies. I remember rolling out the dough and the sprinkles everywhere. I remember the different kinds of cookies: gingerbread (so fun to decorate with icing!), spritz, peacan sandies (also know as Greek/Mexican Wedding cookies–my mom’s favorite), molasses crinkles (my favorite), chocolate chip cookies (my sister’s favorite), oatmeal raisin cookies (my dad’s favorite), sugar cookies, and sometimes a flavor of the year. Not only was it fun, but I never realized how much work my mom put into it until I got married.
Another event was the annual reading of the Christmas stories. My mom would take time leading up to Christmas to read aloud “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” and “A Christmas Carol.” Until we got copies one Christmas we always borrowed them from the library. I haven’t read them in quite a few years, but I intend to revive that tradition this year!
Every year as soon as Thanksgiving was over we would get out the Advent Calendar. It was a lovely homemade felt tree with felt ornaments that someone had gifted us. Us three kids would spend hours looking at it and calculating who would go first, second, and last so that we could figure out whose turn it was to put the last ornament on top of the tree on Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve was our special day. My mom would fix something special for supper. A yummy soup with different favorite crackers, pickles, olives, and cheese. My dad would read the Christmas story after dinner and everyone had their pajamas on. Then we would open our gifts. I’m not sure if we were following Portugal tradition or my parents were just trying to buy a little sleep-in time!
Most of my Christmas memories involve time spent, not money spent. I am carrying that tradition on with my daughter. So let me encourage you–if you find your pocket a little bit empty this year why don’t you consider spending an even more precious commodity with your family–your time? Memories last longer than stuff!