Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Saving Money at Christmas

It might be a good idea to dig out some of your old Christmas stories. This particular one I wrote years ago. The ending is new.

This year, as in previous years, we have had to watch our money. There just isn't enough of it to buy everything we want; but I'll have you know something, we've always managed to smile on Christmas morning.

Here's a story about one such Christmas when my children were small:


            Our girls were two, six and seven the Christmas of 1988.  My husband had been busily looking for employment (again) and I was beginning to wonder how many more days I could stretch out the meals with a pantry full of ‘just a little noodles’ and that great staple item, canned corn.

Photo by trekkyandy, courtesy of Flickr

            One day I was shopping at a thrift store with my mother, feeling discouraged that all I could afford would have to come from…you know…there, when I noticed something interesting.
            The place was surprisingly busy.  Old and young, well dressed and moderately attired, were all making their way up and down the many aisles looking for just the right bargain.  So, I wasn’t alone in my shopping venture.  Still, I couldn’t help feeling wistful.  To afford a real Christmas for my three girls…one the girls would cherish and talk about for years to come…now, that would be better.
            As I was busy in thought, hardly paying attention to the marvelous deals my mother was pointing out, I rounded a toy aisle and there it stood in full glory.
            Okay, not quite full-glory, but it was if the dollhouse spoke to me.  Actually I discovered seconds later that it was my mother.  As I stood with my mouth agape she said, “I bet you can fix this up.”
            I wasn’t so sure.  What I’d spotted was a wooden dollhouse, quite large, proudly displaying lime-green carpet and orange wallpaper.  The piece of masking tape revealed the amazing price--$5 dollars.
            But I wasn’t sold yet.  I knew it would take hours to fix the thing up.  Hours and materials and creativity…
            “Your husband is an artist.  He’ll help you,” my mother said next as if reading my thoughts.
            I few minutes later my mother and I had placed the dollhouse in the trunk of my car.  Although it stuck out a bit (somewhat like a dejected tree from an empty tree lot) we were able to get it safely to my garage at home where the real work began.
            Through the next few evenings my husband and I were busily scrounging up healthy green carpet remnants, leftover neutral pain, even vinyl floor covering for the kitchen area from generous relatives.  And then we were gluing, painting and covering the floors with our artistry.  Towards the finish date, Christmas Eve, my husband decided to paint trees on the outside of the house to give it that ‘homey’ look.
            On Christmas Eve with paint up to our armpits, heavy eyes just gasping for a little shut-eye, and high hopes, my husband and I placed the dollhouse under the Christmas tree.
            The next morning, the glow on our girls’ faces and giggling thank-you from first to last far surpassed the pain of our sore fingers, aching hands, time and travail.  I will never forget the joy I felt that day.
            Today, many years later, my three daughters are grown. Two of the three have children of their own. Just last year, my middle daughter who is divorced with very little money of her own, gathered the now old old dollhouse my mother had made for me when I was a little girl, and got it ready for her daughter. As I had done, she spent hours working on the house alone, painting and designing shutters, until it was time for the trees. These, my husband painted, just like he'd done years ago for her.


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