To say that I came from humble beginnings would be a horrible understatement. Times were hard, money was scarce, and knowing there would be food on the table wasn’t always a given. For all the things we lacked, love wasn’t one of them.
My favorite Christmas memory was probably the year just before I turned five. Seems strange that I would remember something from when I was four and half, but I do. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate it more with each passing year, and it still warms me whenever I think of it.
Both of my parents worked long hours and still barely made ends meet. We lived in a camper in northern Arkansas. I don’t mean a mobile home, a luxury RV, or anything like that. This was a tiny camper with just enough room for a bathroom, a table that folded into a bed, a microwave, and a small refrigerator. No stove. No air conditioner. And we used space heaters to stay warm.
With barely enough money to buy food, Santa wasn’t making a visit this year. Even that young, I understood. We couldn’t afford a tree. Wouldn’t have had room for it if we did. Still, we made the best of it. My dad went out into this small field behind our “home” and used his pocket knife to cut down a tiny little tree that somewhat resembled an evergreen, though it was barely more than eighteen inches tall.
We placed it in the middle of our table, decorated it with balls of aluminum foil, and strung popcorn and jelly beans to wrap around it. Christmas dinner that year consisted of turkey sandwiches—made from the cheapest luncheon meat available. I had an orange soda and got to stay up late. Which, to me, meant I was the luckiest kid on earth.
There was no Christmas miracle where presents magically appeared under that little tree, but it did snow, and I spent most of the day building snowmen and forts. So, why is this my favorite memory? Because as I look back on it now, I realize that with as little as we had, my parents could have chosen to ignore the entire holiday, but instead, did their best to make it as special as possible. I will always cherish that memory.
Now that I’m all grown up with a family of my own, we add our own sparkle and festive rituals. Every year, we go out as a family and each select our own personal ornament for the tree, as well as a family ornament. Then we write our names on the backs, along with the year, before hanging them. After ten years of marriage and two children, we no longer have the need for “regular” bulbs. Our Christmas tree is a unique and eclectic assortment of our personalities.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So, tell me your favorite holiday memory or tradition, or simply leave a comment to say hello. Four winners will be chosen at random on December 19th. Winners will be announced on my blog, so be sure to check back or leave your contact info so I can email you.
Grand Prize: Gift basket filled with swag, one signed paperback book from my backlist, and Fun in the Frosty Air bath and body set by Philosophy.
2nd Prize: One signed paperback book from my backlist.
3rd Prize: 2 winners will receive a free ebook from my backlist.
And because I think it's just so damn gorgeous, the new cover for When the Sun Goes Down, coming December 31st from Siren Publishing.
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