Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Christmas From A Different Perspective

So the Christmas season is already in full-swing, incase you haven’t noticed. If it isn’t a blog being written about “Oh how I love Christmas Time!” it is an away message talking about “Putting up decorations” or “Watching a Christmas Movie” which is always followed by a comment similar to the blogs, such as “I love this time of year!”

I’ve never been a Christmas person, actually, not really much for any of the holidays, and with my birthday in the midst of the Christmas season, it makes it an even more dreaded time of the year for me, since I’m not much for birthday’s either.

I was out to eat with the “fam” the other day, we had just finished taking family pictures for Christmas cards. Yeah, I know right, JUST what a person who isn’t into the holiday spirit is looking forward too (especially since we were all dressed alike…HA!) So anyways, we were eating and one of the kids was saying how my aunt is a Scrooge. So I turned to her and was like, “So you don’t like Christmas? Because I don’t either.” And what she said really surprised me because I TOTALLY agreed with her. She said, “Well, it isn’t so much that I don’t like Christmas, it is more that I don’t like that people feel like they HAVE to give people gifts.” It was then that she went on to talk about how when she was little and didn’t have much money, how her grandma felt like she had to get the kids something for Christmas, and since she didn’t have any money she would take them to the dollar store and let them each pick out something for a dollar, or something like that.

I didn’t comment then. I just shook my head and told her I agreed. But I don’t think she knew just how much I agreed or that I knew EXACTLY what she was talking about.

Having grown up poor, I knew EXACTLY what she was talking about.

Christmas time has a totally different appearance to the poor as it does to those who are “better off” in life. I, obviously only know Christmas from my own perspective, so I will openly share that with y’all, and if you aren’t coming from a perspective similar to mine, maybe it will help you to see Christmas from a different view.

Poor people dread this time of year. If you’re a parent, you worry about if you’ll be able to give your kids a Christmas, not necessarily a “good” Christmas, but a Christmas at all.

First, I realize Christmas and Christmas time is not just about giving and getting presents, but for a parent with small children, you only hope to be able to give your kids some presents like most other families are able to do. And as a small kid, you too, only want to be like everyone else.

Most people have anticipation of what they will get on Christmas morning; poor people have anticipation of will there BE gifts. Some of you might honestly have trouble comprehending this, but it is the truth. Just last Christmas my family didn’t un-wrap a single gift. The only new thing I brought back from St. Louis on my return trip to school was a hair straightening iron I had bought for myself for $10 at Wal-Mart, and honestly, I only used it a couple times because it SUCKED, I have since then bought me a better one.

Now, for me, it didn’t bother me personally that I didn’t un-wrap a single gift last Christmas. I’ve never been much for “getting things” and I take a lot more pleasure in things in this life that aren’t materialistic. But what breaks my heart is thinking about my younger siblings who have to go through a Christmas like that, and then go back to middle school and high school only a week or so after that Christmas day to face their friends.

I went through it when I was a kid, and I’m sure it was the same for them. Going back to school after a poor Christmas was difficult, because you had to face the “What did you get?” questions, and the one I always feared the MOST was, the “What if I have to write a paper or some sort of a journal entry in one of my classes entitled ‘What I got for Christmas’” [Note: to any teacher or future teacher reading this, please don’t ever make your students do that, because you never know who could be having to write those papers, some of those kids might have worried all Christmas break about having to come back and face a paper like that].

In elementary school, middle school, or especially high school, how cool does it make you when your friend is like, “Well I got an X-Box with 4 new games, a stereo system, 4 DVDs, 3 CDs, a ton of new clothes, and a digital camera all for Christmas. What did you get?” and you’re like, “A calendar, a new hair brush, a pair of jeans, a pack of socks, some candy, and a picture frame.” Gosh, being a poor kid at Christmas time is hard. If anything, you just want it to pass, and to avoid all the questions. And if the “what did you get?” questions following the holidays isn’t bad enough, what about all the questions before the holiday, like “Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?” or “What are you asking for for Christmas?” or the “What are you getting for Christmas?” or “Have you found any of your presents hidden around the house yet?” Even having to make a Christmas list for a poor kid is hard because you know when you’re writing it there is no way you’re going to get some of the stuff, so you’re like, “do I put it on there anyways?” or do I make it so all the things on my list are under $10 and I realize I’ll only get a few of them anyways.

As I’ve gotten older, I don’t mind Christmas time for myself anymore, because I don’t care about whether I get gifts or not, because if someone was to ask me what I got for Christmas, it doesn’t bother me anymore to have to admit the truth. I’ve learned there is more to life than how rich you are or what all you own. Whether someone gets $400 dollars worth of presents under the tree or if someone doesn’t even get to put a tree up and their only Christmas gift came from a purchase they made with a couple bucks out of their own wallet, that doesn’t make the person to me.

Luckily too, once you get older, the questions following Christmas are normally the “what did you get for Christmas” kind of questions, it is usually a MUCH better phrased question, “How was your Christmas?” Awww…now THAT one is a GREAT question, because if Christmas is what I believe it should be about, not what you got, but how you felt, you can say “Christmas was GREAT!” even if you didn’t un-wrap a single gift!

I can’t stand the thought that people feel as though they have to buy things for people at Christmas time. And I don’t like all the expectations that come with the Christmas holiday either.

Yes, some people play off their “this is my favorite time of the year” thing with the “it’s not because of the gifts and things, but because everyone is in such good moods and high spirits”, but to me, I ask, why can’t we be in good moods all year round? Why is it just at the time of the holidays? And honestly, I dread Christmas time also because I avoid my favorite store, Wal-Mart, at this time of year because it is SOOO hectic, and I simply can’t wait till the Christmas shopping is over, so I can get back there for my necessities again. HA!

To me, Christmas should just be a day of happiness. No need for gifts, just a chance to talk with those you love and a time for laughter and reminiscing. If Christmas was what I think it really should be, it would be Christmas everyday for me, because it is almost everyday that I am blessed by getting to talk to people I love, usually some of my dear friends and they make me happy and make me laugh.

So, if you’re someone who had the “traditional” Christmas filled with a plethora of gifts to un-wrap the morning of the 25th, just remember your blessings, which include not only those presents, but the other things that Christmas should be about, friends, family, and simple happiness!


Melody said...

Ok...I have to say Kim, even though we have talked a lot together about how we both grew up (having it seem like we should have been in the same family!), it still almost made me cry reading this. I know exactly how you feel! Last Christmas was one of the saddest, most depressing holidays I have ever gone through! I never told ANYONE about this, but we didn't unwrap a single gift either. But the sad part that I am getting to just kills me. My mom is the kind of person that feels the need to give presents when we ALL know that she doesn't have money to. Last Christmas, she gave me her old jewelry box with a lot of her old jewelry in it. She teared up when she was explaining each piece of jewelry to me and what it meant to her. I kow this should have been special, and it was, but it just made me SOOO sad! It just made me think of other families that don't have any money either and their little kids have nothing to open on Christmas morning. To me, this gift was special, but to them it would have been an awful day for them!
Thanks to my Granddaddy and Aunt, we had a few presents to open each Christmas when we were little. It just kills me to know that there are so many little kids out there that deserve so much but aren't going to get anything. Personally, I like the food part the most :)

Suzie Creamcheese said...

Hey Kim! I thought this was a great post. It really made me think about my actions and priorities this Christmas. case today had some sort of special significance for you, I hope it was happy! I'll see you at UTA in the Spring. We should get together sometime then! Suzie