Wednesday, August 23, 2017
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Letter to Santa – 1990 (Photo credit: Valerie’s Genealogy Photos) One year, maybe from talking with friends, or succumbing to the many ads that showed cherubic children writing out their Christmas desires in letters to Santa, my Mom decided to invite my younger brother and me to write out our own Christmas lists. There was only one problem with this plan. She’d never before asked us what we wanted – not for Christmas, not for our birthdays. Gifts were always a mix of practical and fun. We got the usual mittens, scarves and hats. We lived in the North until I was 11, so, pretty much... (Read More ...)

Salvation Army Thrift Store, Santa Monica, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia) My then 10-year-old son, Jonathan, came home from school one day, having noticed the boxes and signs at school asking families to donate canned goods in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, wanting to know where the food went. “Hungry people,” I told him. I didn’t want to admit that in a country where everyone could eat, millions don’t. How could I teach compassion alongside this message? Yet, he had never seen hungry people, except the occasional homeless person in Washington, DC, near our home. Hunger to... (Read More ...)

The Christmas Surprise I knew about my mother’s Christmas present closet. Christmas Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia) I’d even gone through it one year with my younger brother when my Mom was away. It didn’t do me any good. I didn’t know which presents were for me. Under the tree that year, there were none from the secret closet. One year, I got a present that wouldn’t have fit in the closet anyway. Years later, when I asked, Mom told me the box had been stored at a neighbor’s until Christmas Eve. On Christmas Morning That Christmas morning, there was a huge box under the tree. It had... (Read More ...)

Frugal Christmas. My parents and my in-laws were children of the Great Depression. My father-in-law, mother-in-law, mother and father were born in 1915, 1916, 1917, and 1918, respectively. Danish paper cutting decorates a table for Christmas (Photo credit: Wikipedia) They were in their early teens in 1929, during the Crash. My mother was the daughter of a widowed, single Mom who worked for a boss who was cruel to her, but she knew she could not give up her job. My mother-in-law watched her parents lose everything after the Crash. My father-in-law gave up on his hopes for college to help support... (Read More ...)