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.