Tuesday, July 6, 2010

" Christmases Past "

I started thinking about Christmas a few days before the Fourth of July. It wasn't because of the old phrase " Christmas in July ".

July 5th marked the seventh month anniversary of my mom's passing.
Passing. I still can't bring myself to use the word death. 
I know in my mind that she died. But the word still turns my stomach even as I type this.

Please don't think that I am asking for sympathy. Far from it. I know for a fact that my mom is in a much better place than I. My mom as my grandmom were not afraid to die.

Their faith was overwhelming to me as I do feel afraid to die. They both seemed comfortable with the fact that they would be happy when they were called home. And I did feel as though they knew I would be the one to bear the pain while they went off to a magical, safe, loving home.

I can only hope to gain their strength and faith before I am called to come home.

I came from a very poor family as did my husband. I do believe it is part of the reason that we are such a good team.

We still aren't rich. Which is fine because truthfully, I don't know what we would do if we were to become rich. We all imagine what we would do, where we would go. But in all honesty, I think that for us, it would change things much too drastically.

As a young girl, I like many young girls looked forward to Christmas. But it wasn't because of the gifts that I might receive. It was because of the wonderful stockings that my mom would fill every Christmas eve.

In those days our stockings, being hung with care of coarse, were filled with nuts, fruits and a few very special trinkets. As was our tradition being from a poor family, we were lucky to receive a gift as well.

When I was about nine years old, I remember my father scolding me for something which has been long since forgotten. He warned me that I may only get a chunk of coal in my stocking!

My how that statement turned me around. Whatever I did to deserve this scolding, I must have stopped as I did receive my usual yet excitingly stuffed stocking! If only those few words would work on my fifteen year old today.  

There was one year in particular that I remember. It is burned into my memory. As stated earlier, we were very poor. So poor that many nights the dinner menu consisted of popcorn. Popcorn is good, unless that's your only meal that you are able to serve your child.

Those of you that have been around here awhile may remember that my father was an alcoholic. At that time my mom didn't even have a drivers license. So she was totally dependent upon my father. Who by the way used to also beat her, often.

This particular Christmas is so embedded in my memory. I remember occasionally seeing my mom sewing by hand. I didn't think twice about it. I had a crush on a neighbor boy. It was an escape from the turmoil that was my daily routine.

One evening that Christmas year, mom and I took a walk with our wagon. All I remember about this was turning a corner and seeing a Christmas tree lot. Mom gave the man a five dollar bill. we came home with a three foot Christmas tree.

My gift that year. Well it turns out that mom spent hours and hours hand sewing Barbie clothes for my Barbie doll. She made several outfits and this beautiful woolen coat for my Barbie, all by hand.

A Christmas gift that I will never, ever forget. Mom was always a great gift picker outer! I on the other hand did not get that talent from her. I apologize to my family!

I am going to skip ahead in time. After I married my second, current husband. Remember I said that we both came from poor families. Christmas was always a struggle for us. Oh heck, buying food has always been a struggle for us but we work very well together and manage to do the very best that we can.

I have a wonderful talent of being able to cook something good out of nothing. Quite ironic considering the fact that I despise cooking. And while my wonderful husband took on me ( a challenge ) and two children, he has always managed to keep food on the table. And not just popcorn!

We have had many a poor Christmas. One in particular, still breaks my heart to think of. This particular year, our two teenage children received only a tee-shirt each. And while we saw the disappointment on their faces, they at least acted grateful.
After that there were years when there were no gifts, not by choice mind you. Just the luck of the draw. We drew short.

We had better years. Our two children were growing up and out. They both went on to become very successful. And while we still have a fifteen year old at home, I suspect she'll do alright too.

One of the WORST Christmases we've had involved money. My husband injured himself on a job sight. We received a nice settlement. So we in turn splurged on our family that year.

The lesson we learned from that year was huge. As a matter of fact, to this day my husband and I always agree that it was the most awful Christmas that we had. Big presents were bought. Wrappings were thrown away and the day was forgotten. Nothing special. 

There was no Christmas spirit. That was when we discovered that there really is a Christmas spirit. Oh we both believe and have faith in God and all. We both knew the meaning of Christmas.

But this was the first time we FELT it. 

It is the little things that make us happy. The things that don't cost. You can spend and spend and spend. But there is no guarantee that you will feel good because of it. 
It is the everyday love that you show. The cleaning, the laundry, the hug, the damn cooking, the mending, the stroking, the kind words said over and over, the encouragement, the clean sheets, the band-aides, the kool-aides, the coffees, the kisses, the closeness, the speeches, the lectures, the kindness, the love and the fact that you are there. No matter what. That's the greatest Christmas gift of all.

So Save your money. Use it to take the one you love to the theater. Out to dinner. Go to a second hand shop. Maybe fishing together.

When Christmas rolls around again this year, which it will, if you are lucky enough to still be here.....

Don't worry about the gift, worry about the last impression that you will leave. Will it be a hug and an "I love you" or a new toy?

I love you mom.

Merry Christmas in July. And thank you for the awesome Barbie clothes. ♥ 

Note: This photo was taken of my mom, Anna Mae Evanoff, seven months before her death. The sweater she was wearing is one that I crocheted for one of her birthdays.  

I must apologize. I had thought that was the sweater that I made for my mom as it is the exact same color and the collar is the same.
Upon closer examination, I realized that it wasn't. 


Lois Evensen said...

How very beautiful. Your mother was certainly a marvelous woman who raised an equally marvelous daughter. I'm happy to call you friend.

Diana said...

Thank you Lois, I knew that you would understand. Love Di ♥

Graceful Moments said...

You made me weep with this wonderful and beautiful story about your mom and Christmas. My own sweet mom has only been gone a short while (11-11-2006.) We know they are in a better place but it is so hard to be here without them.
My mom made clothes for my Barbie dolls too. She made a lot of our Christmas presents...handmade dolls, stuffed animals. We often thought we were poor but I realize now that we had it pretty good. I can't remember ever being without food or shelter. It seems we were both blessed with wonderful mothers. I will keep you in my prayers this week...I know it is hard. Love, Vicki

Lynilu said...

What a touching, beautiful post. It brought up so many memories and thoughts that I could possibly post them here, but be assured that I've enjoyed the sweet (and bittersweet) memories.

I agree that the best times are those in which we had less stuff and more love. Those are dear to my heart.

Sweet dreams, Di. Count your blessings. :)

anupama said...

Dear Di,
Good Morning!
This post is the real loving tribute to your Mom,dear!I loved it sooooooooo much!This is the best post of yours!You Mom looks so beautiful and graceful.Both of you can be proud of each other.
Money is not everything,dear.That is why I always stress the point-take time to say,''I Love You!''
Life is very short.Enjoy each and every moemnt.
You are so honest to admit your not so bright childhood.But I appreciate the values.
I have seen poor people enjoying and living life in kingsize1It is the understanding and love between each other!
Your words flowed from your heart and we can feel the true feelings!
Yes,it is the spirit of the festival that is more important!
Paying respects to the departed soul of your Mom and Grandma,
Love you so much,
You are a blessed doul,
Be grateful to God for a loving family,
Wishing you a peaceful day,

Cinner said...

Diana, what a beautiful post, you know your Mother looked beautiful in the sweater you had made her. you are so right about Christmas. My parents went to my sisters the last Christmas and I did not go as I was not feeling well. It breaks my heart to know I missed the last one., but I did see him 3 weeks before he passed away.I loved reading about all your Christmases. we did not have a lot of money, one year the kids stockings were all full, and my Dad had put old potatoes in his sock, and he said he must have been very bad for Santa to put that in his stocking. Us kids thought it was the funniest thing we had ever heard. I remember how much fun he was having at seeing us all laughing. thank you for making me think of such good memories. I know you must miss your Mom just awful, she will always be with you. hugs to you cherish every memory you have. Hugs my friend.

Rinkly Rimes said...

At first I was surprised to see that your blog was about Christmas but now I understand. It wasn't so much that you were thinking of Christmas as that you were thinking of great gifts. How good that you appreciate them.

Wanda said...

Your post speaks of all the qualities that make a good life, Di. Bought presents come and go and if remembered, it's usually the sentiment that makes it so.

Christmas time is special because, if lucky, our families concentrated on showing love, not just buying!

I can feel your gratefullness from this post, Di and know memories of your mom give you comfort, much as the memories of mine give me!

Making memories with my family is important to me...it is the best gift we can give or receive.


Anvilcloud said...

Hard times breed values and character, and you seem to have those in abundance.

Rebecca said...

The more I learn to "know" you via your words, the more I appreciate you.

How right you are re. the real spirit of Christmas.

Do you still have those Barbie clothes? I'd love to see a picture of them. My grandmother made many doll clothes. The care and work involved in detailing Barbie clothes is amazing. Truly a work of love.

Your mother is beautiful. How blessed you are to have this picture of her in a sweater you crocheted. The color is so attractive on her! (But then, you already know that.)

Gail said...


Oh my this is a most beautiful and touching post. It is filled with emotion, some joyous, some not so much. I am so sad your Dad beat your Mom - and equally sad that you saw and knew. I love your Mom stories and all your lessons learned from her - life changing and life giving for sure. :-)
I think you are wonderful in more ways than I can express - and I appreciate and respect you as a woman, a Mom, a daughter, a wife and a friend. AND as Mr Toad's friend.

Love to you
peace and hope.....

Diana said...

Thank you all for your kind comments.
And Rebecca, no I don't still have the clothes. When we still lived up north I had all of my childhood mementos stored in a basement that flooded and ruined EVERYTHING! Including my autograph from Frankie Avalon. It was heartbreaking. But I still have the memories at least!
Love Di ♥

Dee said...

Merry christmas to you Diana. Saying your mom has passed is accurate. There is no death for those in Christ. Thank you for sharing your heart. Hugs...Dee

Bill ~ {The Old Fart} said...

Di, what a nice tribute to your Mum, in time it will get easier for you. I to this day don't say my Mum or Dad died. I say they went home to be with God.

Reading this I was taken back to my Christmases of my Youth as well. We were not rich either, but Mum and Dad made sure my Sister and I had a Good Christmas. We might not have got much, but we did get one gift with our Stocking from Santa and a Gift from them under the tree. Mum would make sure we had a Wonderful Christmas Dinner.

In Later Years I can remember Mum starting her Knitting in the Summer so as everyone would get something knitted as a gift for Christmas. I still have my Sweater she knit for me, though the years have added to Yours Truly and it doesn't fit anymore.

Thank you for Sharing Di,

Being Pramoda... said...

hi Di..

wow..christmas in june..nice concept..actually, festivals are for good, more festivals, more enjoyments..so the number shall increase..

in india, we have many many festivals.. people use to make fun out of them by saying that, you get festivals as easily as u inhale and exhale..:)
some memories and persons can never be removed frm our hearts.. thats the true love..

be happy.

Bernie said...

What a wonderful post Di, and so very true. We were always blessed with a good Christmas....we were taught to give was better than to receive and to this day my siblings and I always find a way to share with those who are less fortunate. We have been repaid so many times with love and good friends. Christmas or any holiday is not about the presents but about the opportunities to share with others, love the holidays.
.........:-) Hugs

Barb said...

Heartfelt memories and a special remembrance of your lovely Mother, Di. Your list of the things that matter in life is so very true. It's the closeness with people that counts and the love shown spontaneously - never something store-bought.

Wanda said...

Diana ~ You post was so touching, and so insightful. Full charm and wisdom. We were poor too, and I think we celebrate Christmas a little different because of it.

The picture of you mom is beautiful. I miss my mom so too and it's been 20 years.

Love the doll clothes she made for your Barbie..those are not easy to make (so small)

Thanks again for sharing your life, it inspires mine.

Mar said...

Oh Diana you hit me in the heart with this! You have reminded me that worldly things break and rust, but the love of family and friends is enduring.

Terrie said...

Once again, it's like you've smacked me in the head saying "wake up!" You have such a way of putting me in my place and reminding me what is more important. I thank you for that.

Hugs to you

Maria said...

Hi Diana!
Your post today is striking a chord with all of us here ... How true your words are... and they were so tenderly written.
My father was a barber and my mom a hairdresser...We didn't have a lot, but I always felt loved and secure.
When I look back, some of the sweetest gifts were the gifts of their time.
I learned to sew {amateur style} when I was very young and loved making Barbie clothes too. I remember the simple patterns for doll clothes that would be free in Woman's Day magazine.

I love your posts, Diana... You are such a genuine person. You have become so dear to many of us ♥

Your mother, God bless her, raised a tender and kind person.
She too, must have been a beautiful person!
Merry Christmas, Diana!
ps. I just saw your videos from the last post ...about Mr. Toad... and... I do believe he IS smiling... HE REALLY IS!!!

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

I really enjoyed the post.

Abraham Lincoln
Brookville, Ohio

Jules said...

Diana...I love the person that you are and I'm sure the life you have lived has made you who you are.

Amanda said...


Your mom must have been such a gentle, and kind soul. I almost feel as though I know her through your post!!! My mom sewed barbie clothes for my sister and I when we were little girls, and I will treasure those little clothes always!!

Love at Christmas, and genuine giving is worth more than anything else!!

Merry Christmas in July

Ginnie said...

Christmas in July! Why not? and it's a nice tribute to your Mom. I remember the first Christmas that I had with my new husband. We both over spent and it took us all year to recoup. Never again!

Robynn's Ravings said...

Wow, Di. What an incredible post. I'm so sorry for the loss of your mom and that she was the kind of mother who would be so deeply missed. That's a huge tribute to her, I hope you realize.

We had some poor Christmases, too, when I was a kid and we've had some lean ones in the last few years. But those have been sweeter, as you say, than the abundant ones in many ways. And I marvel at how much more I enjoy the season when I don't have to spend every waking moment shopping and wrapping! There is definitely blessing in simplicity.

Your mom was beautiful. Like you.

Brenda said...


It made me sad to hear about your Christmases with no gifts for the children. We can handle a great deal in our life but the hardest thing of all (for me) is not being able to give to our children.

Your mother was beautiful. This was a sweet tribute both to her and also of you. Thanks for not being bitter. Some would be. I appreciate your sweet spirit! Blessings on you, dear Diana.

Teresa said...

Hi Di,
I really loved this post. It was so full of inspiration and so real. I too had an alcoholic father who abused my mom physically and emotionally. He abused us too.

My mom and dad divorced when I was eleven, and my mom always knew how to make the best of things. When I think back, us 6 kids were so well taken care of, all our physical needs were met, however, emotionally, I don't think my mom could handle all of us, and so much of our emotional needs went unmet. I know my mom always did her best, with what she knew, and I loved her so much. I miss her everyday too, and I don't think you ever stop missing mom. Sometimes I wish I had appreciated her more...I know that now.

You are right about the things that are important...and it certainly is not a big expensive gift. I so want to remember this with my own family this year, and forever more, and to do the little, important things, that will be remembered long after I am gone. I so want to love more, listen more, hug more, ... thanks so much for the inspiration this morning. ((((HUGS))) TT

Tranquility Speaks said...

I absolutely loved this post Diana. There is so much in it for me to learn. I totally agree with you that you can spend as much as you can manage, but real happiness comes from things that come for free. Love doesn't cost anything, and an inexpensive coffee with someone you love will be cherished and remembered more than an insanely expensive gift which finds no use. I shall always always keep your advise in mind.

I'm not from an extremely rich family myself and we've always saved more than we've spent. The best things in life are still free :) Loads of love to you :)