I have so many precious and wonderful memories of the Christmases that we had as a child.
The tree, the presents, the year we went Christmas caroling around the block and had snowballs thrown at us by the guy I had maintained a four year crush on Â (I started in Kindgergarten).
Every year my mother let us paint the big Living room picture window with Christmas scenes out of poster paint, and each year we would try to outdo each other on last year’s images.
So many MANY good memories!
So when a dear, sweet Christian friend began to reminisce about the times that she had with her family, I knew you wanted to hear about it. I knew you would be just as enthralled as I was, hearing someone else’s sweet memories and ideas as they raised seven children on a small budget.
Really, her stories brought not only tears to my eyes, but also warmth to my heart. What wisdom we gain by listening to other amazing people share the things that they did to make holidays, and every day, special with what they had on hand at the moment.
I have invited Diana not just to share here for our HomeSpun Christmas celebration, and make you think of fondness to memories you had as a child, but have also asked her to be a regular contributor to our wonderful community and post here at least once a month. She is someone I would love to not only sit with and hear her wisdom and beauty pouring out, but someone I think you will learn from and come to love as well.
Without further ado, I would like to give you our very first installment of “Thinking Back” by Diana Dougherty.
Grab a cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy her writing. Be sure to comment and tell her what you enjoyed about it, or share your own favorite childhood memory for her entertainment.
Thinking Back: Christmas with No Money
Raising 7 children with very little money to spend on toys and crafts, we often turned to what the Lord provided in nature and with things that people would give us. It seems that when you have a big family, people love to donate to the cause and that’s a Blessing.
We, as a family, started gathering our Christmas decoration supplies all during the year and every time with got a little cash to work with, I would buy some “bling” type craft supplies like sequins, Swiss straw, straight pins, glitter, yarn, glue. Well, you get the idea but then, from God’s supply store, we found weeds, grasses, leaves, flowers, gourds, pebbles, shells, seeds and all sorts of wonderful goodies that we could dry and use in our fall and Christmas decorations.
Along about Nov 1, we would gather our supplies around our huge home made Walton type table and dig in. We often find scratched or faded glass balls at yard sales that were either free or nearly so. We also got some styrofoam balls in all different sizes from sales. The glass and the foam balls were covered, most of the time, with Swiss straw, I think it’s called raffia now but I don’t know if it’s the same product. This stuff was fun to work with, looking like onion skin but in a very long skein that was soaked in water, spread out and wrapped carefully around the balls then allowed to dry. The children loved doing this. Everyone would wrap about 3 or 4 balls and then they had to dry until the next day.
Then let the fun begin. If you want to see what your child can think up, just give them trays of goodies and tell them to make something they love to hang on the tree. Some used glitter and glue while the older ones really loved the look of stringing beads, on a straight pin and ending it with a sequin before shoving it into the styrofoam balls. It was amazing to see all the final products of a child’s mind and then when it was time to hang them on the tree, oh the look of satisfaction and pride on each child’s face was just too precious for words. We also made candies like fudge and cornflake wreaths to hang on the tree. We always managed to get a few boxes of candy canes for the tree as well. They were the one decoration that the children were allowed to have before Christmas.
When the tree was all up, decorated and lighted, the children took turns sleeping under the tree at night. They had their bed roll, usually about 3 kids at a time and it was their job to fill the water container for the tree every night and morning. Of course, us adults always checked to be sure it was done. Too important to let it slide.
The day after Christmas was when we started making our New Years Eve Pinata. I would blow up a balloon (I was the one with the most hot air, HA HA) while the old kids would make up the flour paste and the little kids would tear up the newspaper into strips for the paper-mache. The strips were dipped into the paste and applied with great care (ya right) to the balloon. The put on 2 or 3 layers and then it had to dry until the next evening and then more layers were applied and let dry. This went on each night until it was thick enough and then they painted it.
Oh my the ideas they had. What was supposed to be a dog shape may have ended up looking more like a goat. When the painting was finished and dry, their dad would cut a hole in the top and hang it from the rope tied to the rafter in the dining room. Our house wasn’t finished on the inside so there were lots of places to tie it up to.
While everyone was sleeping on Dec 31, hubby and I would fill the pinata with goodies we had gathered earlier in the year and then we would seal it shut. All the next day, the kids had to see their pinata hanging there just waiting until evening so they could break it open. When that time finally came, their dad did the referee part while I made popcorn. He blindfold each child, one at a time, starting with the youngest that was able to swing the bat and of course, he let the pinata down so they could reach it and then raised it up the bigger the child got. Everyone got a few whacks and it was great fun but the real treat came with the actual breaking and the goodies went everywhere.
Then it was popcorn time and hot chocolate before bed. The Christmas tree had to come down before the breaking of the pinata for it’s own protection. It was outside in a snow bank awaiting the winter bird food decorations. That’s another story. Just because you don’t have money to do crafts and such, doesn’t mean you can’t, it just means you will need to use what the Lord has provided, in supplies and imagination.
Have fun with your children and grand children while you can.
I really needed to read this today! We had a terrible time with our most recent move. Lots of things went missing. I was bummed for the kids as most everything they had was gone. We’ve been rebuilding when lo and behold we get the Christmas tree out to find we have NO decorations. I was furious UNTIL you reminded me about using what God has provided. We have lights…and my children’s little imaginations will fill in the rest.
May the Lord bless you Diana. He has already blessed me through you. 🙂
Precious memories that I had forgotten about. Thank you for posting. I love my mom.
Your mom rocks. What great ideas and memories she shares for so many of us that have young families and want to “de-commercialize”! You are blessed!
What creative ways to get kids involved! What neat memories sleeping under the tree and the pinata. I’d never heard of that before. Thanks for sharing!
I am Diana’s oldest daughter. Great memories mom! I also remember stringing popcorn and cranberries and hanging them on the Christmas tree.
What an awesome and heartwarming story. Diana, I love you girl, and I’m proud to call you friend. I look forward to more of your stories.
Heather, you know how much I love you!!
Great ideas. Brings back some good memories of the craft box my Nana kept for us kids at her house, filled with bread tags and cardboard stocking inserts. 🙂
Stories of Christmas are always among my favorite. Memories truly are the best gifts of all, aren’t they?
I’m glad to visit you today from the Facebook Comment Chain at the Ultimate Blog Challenge group! Woot Woot!
Sounds like such fun. I do remember that when my sister and I were real young, our mother would have us do many different holiday homemade crafts. Theses little projects ranged from garlands made from construction paper, 6 inch Christmas wreath decorations made from shredded wheat, food coloring and more to all kinds of ornaments we made with frozen fruit juice concentrate lids and shortbread ornaments. We spent hours paining and decorating ornaments. I bet my mother still has those. All were home made of course from simple ingredients. I enjoyed the story. Thereâ€™s nothing better for creating a fun, memorable and close Christmas than doing things together and sharing with each other.
Thank you for sharing the fun post.
I am the youngest girl of the 7 children and it was such a joy to come home and read these wonderful memories! I can’t wait to see more. My childhood Christmases will always have a special place in my heart. BTW, Mom made the best homemade hot chocolate ever!
I enjoy these memories very much mom, I say hello to the readers, this is my mother’s middle child. There are three children above me, and three others below. All whom I love very much. I love you too mom, and I miss you all more than words can say. These memories are just a small privilege of being a child in a family which had two loving parents. Money or not, clearly shown here is love. Love, because of a wonderful time with people who loved each other, and found simple joy in all that the Lord offered. These memories have choked me at this time. All the things that are mentioned in this article, are very much the things I wished to offer my children. The years go by so very fast,and now behind, never to be recovered. May the Lord help every individual, to be thankful for everything they have today. May we find joy in everything around us. For everything has a reason, and a purpose amen.
Absolutely beautiful Christeen!
Thank you for coming on by and commenting, I will make sure to draw your mom’s attention to it!
Thank you for your comment Heather!
Merry Christmas to you, and all my family!
May the Lord bless all our individual needs!
God is Faithful Amen!
I love this story and brings much more to how Christmas should be about family, celebrating the whole season of giving and being thankful. It was totally unrelated but I got a feeling of Christmas’ past reading this and remembered how my Aunt in her fun way would remind us every year why we were there. She brought in a Birthday Cake and we all sang Happy Birthday to Jesus. Funny how memories come from different things.
Hi Heather and Diana
What beautiful memories. I was raised in a home that had very little money. We did a lot of making our own things. I remember that my mother made all of my doll clothes for the doll that I got for Christmas when I was in kindergarten. About 2 years ago, I gave that doll to my granddaughter. I kept it all of these years and still have the clothes mother made for it.
Mother was always foraging bits of the outdoors to make projects. She would use driftwood or small bits of wood, leaves, really anything she could find. I still have some of her creations. We also made boxes decorated with macaroni and paint. I know at least one of those was around for a lot of years.
Some of my favorite memories of decorating the tree include stringing popcorn. Of course, we had to eat some while we strung some.
Thanks for sharing all of your beautiful memories with us.