My least favorite Christmas was the year that we lived in Charleston and were put onto the angle tree. Every since I could remember and every year since, we would all pick a child off the angle tree and get so much joy out of thinking of them and buying for them.
The Christmas after my dad had attempted suicide (and nearly succeeded) we had no money (more "no money" than usual). My dad had been in the hospital for more than half a year, we had crazy bills, and we lived with my grandparents. So we were put on the angle tree.
It was so weird to have hundreds of presents delivered to our door. We didn't pick them out we didn't make them, it was just an "instant Christmas" and it was the biggest Christmas we've ever had.
I hate to say it but it just ruined it for me. Yes we got a lot of toys and clothes but the magic of giving had been taken away. It felt empty.
My favorite Christmas was an unexpected Christmas spent in a 27 ft trailer in the top of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in CA. We had no money this Christmas, as well, and spent all of December sewing baby doll clothes from scraps of our skirts, scavenging goodwills for the perfect gift, baking, reading Little House on the Prarie books, eating popcorn and just being together. We had no friends, no other family but us, but Christmas was extra magical that year. It snowed several feet and we cozily opened presents inside with our "charlie brown christmas tree". Then we sledded down the hill right outside our front door.
Now I'm a mama. I have two little boys who are making memories every day and it freaks me out.
It's so hard as a mama to try to find the right ways to teach my children that Christmas is about Christ and His birth, that it is about the joy of GIVING and it is about being with people we love.
And also at the same time I have this overwhelming desire to shower my children with gifts to make their eyes sparkle with excitement. I have to remember that sparkle will be over as the toys break or loose their newness but the memories of being with family will never fade.