View Full Version : Were your parents frugal or generous at Christmas?

Merry Christmas Darling
11-18-2013, 10:29 PM
My mother believed in giving one non-clothing item and one clothing item each Christmas. There were never any stockings and she did't buy candy. Christmas dinner was a duplicate of Thanksgiving dinner. She never baked cookies.

How was it in your home as a child?

11-19-2013, 01:14 AM
My parents went crazy. We got a ton of presents! Now our boys get quite the haul every year too.

Our big dinner was always Christmas Eve. Fondue & homemade French onion soup. Christmas Day was usually just grazing on meat and cheese trays, assorted crackers and dip, etc....

11-19-2013, 02:13 AM
My parents were frugal. My father could have afforded more, but he gave my mother a very small budget to work with, so she did the best she could. She tried to spend the same amount on each of us four children. I rarely got what I asked for, but it usually turned out nice. We didn't expect a lot of presents, so we usually weren't too disappointed. My mother would always buy several smaller, less expensive gifts when we were little, so it would seem like we were getting a lot. When I was very young, my maternal grandparents would come over on Christmas Eve, I think, and my mother made home made oyster stew; or was that New Years? lol, hard to remember now. Everyone loved the oyster stew except me. I was the picky one in the family. We always have a big Christmas breakfast and my mother's parents joined us for that, until they moved out west to Colorado Springs, where my grandmother was originally from, when I was 9. it always started with half a grapefruit, usually pink or red, that had been sectioned, with alternating red and green maraschino cherries in the centers. oh, and everything was set out in fine china, sterling silver, and crystal goblets. same with dinner, which was the main focus, meal-wise. it was also a duplicate of Thanksgiving dinner. We were not allowed to open any gifts until after breakfast, which was agony for us children, since the grown-ups would sit around the table afterward for what seemed like hours talking about very boring things, lol. we never had dinner til maybe 7, 6 at the earliest. and I always thought this was normal and was very surprised to grow up and find that most people have Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner much much earlier. my job, for years, and partly because I volunteered, was to polish all the silver, among other things. all the china, silver, and crystal were my mother's, which she inherited.

Merry Christmas Darling
11-19-2013, 02:41 AM
We didn't have any relatives come over at anytime except in 1966. Breakfast every day of the year was whatever each of us prepared for ourselves. My sister and I polished the silver (it was silver plate). The "china" was ironstone. That's funny about your Christmas dinner. My mother liked to have it at 2:00 pm and she was always very punctual.

Merry Christmas Darling
11-19-2013, 02:46 AM
My parents went crazy. We got a ton of presents! Now our boys get quite the haul every year too.

Our big dinner was always Christmas Eve. Fondue & homemade French onion soup. Christmas Day was usually just grazing on meat and cheese trays, assorted crackers and dip, etc....

Three out of our four children spend a huge amount of money on their children at Christmas. Your meals sound nice, not making the cook work herself to death.

11-19-2013, 02:51 PM
My family was very, very frugal. My mother was on Government Assistance my entire childhood - but she really, really did her best at Christmastime. We always had lots of decorations (which I think she got from my Grandmother). Christmas eve was always spent at our Family's house (First my Grandmother every year, and then, after my Grandpa passed, we alternated betwen the aunts/uncles). We got a few small presents from them, which we got to open that day. And it was always a pot-luck turkey dinner. Christmas morning breakfast was ALWAYS bacon & eggs, but luckily my mom let us open our presents first.

For being so poor, we actually got a LOT of presents. Firstly, our Stockings were stuffed to the brim. Sure, they might have been dollar-store toys and candy - but I think it was my mom's favorite thing to put together - she even wrapped every item inside. My mom would always try to get us one thing herself, that we "asked for", otherwise, she got a bunch of toys, games, art supplies, socks, etc donated from our local church & charity. I'd say I had 10-15 gifts a year!

I appreicate everything my mom did to make Christmas a special time of year now - I realize that I get my love of Christmas from her. :)

Merry Christmas Darling
11-19-2013, 04:16 PM
I LOVE your story, Chantelle! That's really touching.

11-19-2013, 04:54 PM
Sadly I didn't grow up with very giving parents, and my parents also didn't make a lot of money so giving wasn't their strong suit. I on the other hand have turned it into an obsession and my son gets spoiled like crazy every year.

11-19-2013, 11:21 PM
Even when I was very young, and my parents had significantly less money, my sister and I always seemed to have a lot of presents. Now, I honestly don't know what kind of budget was set. I know there was one though. My dad was a Teamster, and we managed on a single (blue collar) income my whole childhood. Now that I think back, I suppose we got a lot of "cheaper" stuff, but it was sure fun to open it all though!!

For my wife and I, we both have good jobs, and we waited a bit before having kids. As a result, we can manage a little more for them. They seem to get that one "cool" thing they each ask for each year. This year will be no different. We work hard, and we are blessed.

12-28-2013, 04:29 AM
We didn't have much money growing up, so I would say frugal. I know every year I asked for things that I didn't get. My friends also received more expensive gifts than I did, but somehow none of it bothered me- I was really happy and grateful for everything I got. I've been thinking about it alot this year, that I'm glad I didn't get everything I wanted back then. If I had, I would just be expecting everything on my list, rather than wondering what I would get. There was a rarity to things back then, that made me appreciate every little thing. I, also, have my mother to thank for making my Christmas memories anything but frugal, no matter how little money we had.

I don't remember baking Christmas cookies, except occasionally, but my mother was always busy making craft gifts for our school Christmas bazaar.

Christmas Eve was never really celebrated when I was a child- just church and an easy to prepare meal (I remember one year was Spaghetti O's- a big deal to me!). Nothing Christmasy was usually on tv (back in the days before cable). I would be so excited waiting for Santa, that most years I would make myself nauseous. lol As we got older, my sisters and I placed more emphasis on the Eve rather than the Day, because we loved the anticipation.

We never had relatives over for the holiday growing up, either. They were all down in NYC. We went to see them some time afterward.
We never opened any presents on Christmas Eve and we never had to wait to open presents on Christmas morning (Thank God!).

Merry- do you have happy memories/feelings of Christmas as a child?

01-16-2014, 06:16 PM
Somehow I missed this thread until now!

When I was very young my parents were on a very tight budget as well. My Mom has always believed in quantity over quality - so while we had a number of presents, they were all inexpensive. I remember one year she sewed my sister and I a huge collection of Barbie clothes mostly made from scraps and old socks. It was one of my favorite gifts ever. We always made decorated sugar cookies for Christmas (and rum balls) and we had an inexpensive buffet dinner on Christmas Eve and a roast beef dinner on Christmas Day. We usually had relatives for Christmas - usually my aunt and uncle (until the year he asked her for a divorce on Christmas night) and sometimes one of the Grandmothers. It was always a lot of fun even if we didn't spend much. Once my Mother returned to work, we had a lot more money in the house. We were 4 children so my Dad always watched his pennies. I was the oldest (my younger sister was almost 13 years younger) so I remember the most frugal times

09-26-2014, 07:29 PM
We lived in a very small house (with 2 bedrooms) 6 people, dad, mum, grandma and 3 kids. Dad was the only one working, but he did not get much money.
My parents used to decorate a tiny tree and they always put it on a small table cause in that way it would seem taller for me and my sister.

I never got what I wanted cause I just never asked for anything particular for a Christmas present. Any present (whatever this was) was just an amazing surpise for me and I remember being extremely happy when given a wrapped package.

Now, as years have gone by, I always find myself doing the best presents for my parents, I love watching their eyes when they get packages from the 3 of us...
They so much deserve it and i just wish I had more money to buy them whatever they really needed, but, I have found a way, I get presents that do not cost much, so, there have been times where I get 2 or 3 presents for each.

Until now, my mum loves to buy me socks for Christmas and my dad a book. I do not know guys, I always get sentimental and find very sweet to get presents from 2 guys who have no money.....
A smile from both, is the best present I can ever get for Christmas.

07-22-2016, 07:59 PM
First of all, I've enjoyed reading all of the posts on this topic. Second, like OM, I can't believe I haven't seen this until now!

Christmas was always a big deal for my sisters and me growing up. We were a one-income, middle class family and there weren't a lot of extras during the year. But at Christmas, my parents always saw to it that their kids had plenty of presents under the tree. Presents from them always had a gift tag, but presents from Santa always had a magic-markered initial on the wrapping paper. (Mom's explanation was that Santa only had time to scribble on the paper, he couldn't be expected to fill out a gift tag for the millions of kids that night. However, I never could figure out how he had time to wrap the presents. :)) That tradition has continued with Mom and Dad for their grandchildren.

I think Mom and Dad tried to do as much for us at Christmas as they could because of the way they both celebrated Christmas growing up. Mom's family couldn't afford to do much at Christmas since they were farmers with 8 children. I remember her telling me that she'd usually get a pair of socks and an orange as her presents. Because of that, she always wanted to do so much more for us. With my dad, his mom always went all out at Christmas, buying him and his brother more stuff than they would ever be able to play with. Since that's what he was used to, he wanted to make sure that his kids got the same treatment.

My parents always tried to come up with one surprise gift, either for the whole family or for us individually. One year, probably around 1980, there was a large wrapped box that appeared under the tree a couple of weeks before Christmas. My sisters and I convinced ourselves that it was a computer. Mom never let on one way or another what was in the box. On Christmas morning, she made us wait to open the big present after all the other ones. The anticipation was killing us. And since she made us wait, we just KNEW it was a computer. The three of us tore into the box, only to find that it was a leather ottoman. Mom thought it was the funniest thing when we said, "We thought this was a computer." She said, "I never said it was a computer, I just said it was a surprise."

Mom and Dad would always let us open one present on Christmas Eve. Most years we could choose which present we wanted to open. When I was about 8 years old, they told me to open a particular one. Naturally, being 8 years old, I assumed it was something big. The look on my face must have said it all, because when I opened the package I saw that it was a pair of navy blue house shoes. I tried to act excited, but they could tell otherwise. I remember Mom saying, "Your dad didn't have as good a year at work this year, and this is the best we could do." I went to bed that night feeling terrible for expecting more. The next morning after we'd opened all of our presents, Dad told me that there was one more for me to open. He brought in fairly large and heavy box. I opened it up and it was a 13" black and white television. I looked at Mom and Dad, and I could tell that they were pleased to have fooled me the night before.

When our daughters were smaller, it was easier to have several presents under the tree for them on Christmas morning. As they grew older, the number of presents decreased as their gifts got more expensive. This year, we'll have a new addition to the family - our first grandchild. While he won't know what's going on this year, I'm really looking forward to the next few years with him at Christmas.

07-26-2016, 06:36 PM
In our home christmas was a big thing to my mom,but,as we were a farming family daddy always watched the money as mom raised us to understand the true spirit of christmas so we made alot of our own christmas decorations and we'd always string popcorn and cranberries,mom would make our candies and she's make cookies,cakes,pies everything from scratch,and my grandparents would be there and we would have a nice ham dinner.Stockings were filled with fruit and nuts and our gifts mainly things they knew we needed like socks,pants,shirts and a few games and my grandmother made us each mittens,scarfs and we each got an afghan for our bed.As far as our tree we cut our own up in our woods which was so nice just the smell of the fresh pine and mom would cut extra to bring home to make our wreath,looking back and remembering all those wonderful memories i have found myself making alot of my own christmas decor and i myself bake from scratch and i make my own confections.Yes,i do buy a few new things but,living here in the mountians i much rather have those old fashioned christmases i remember and love,another great memory is our woodstove and how my mom would make her hot cocoa on it like i do here.Maybe frugal in some eyes but,to me it's all about the love of family.:merrychristmas: