Sometimes My Family Was Poor Around The Holidays, But That Didn't Change The Meaning Of Christmas

Sometimes My Family Was Poor Around The Holidays, But That Didn't Change The Meaning Of Christmas

It’s being around people you care about and being nice to one another that matters.

When I was younger, my family was very poor. We weren’t always poor though. We had different stages of wealth, which happens to a middle-class family in America. We had times where we were okay. We could afford to buy groceries, we could have internet, we could afford to have two cars.

Then there were times where neither of my parents had jobs, we had maybe one car that needed to be fixed but we couldn’t afford the parts and we were living off of government-issued food stamps. It always seemed like a limbo of making things work, like my parents were standing on a balancing beam between working enough to afford everything and being too poor to make it.

During our hard times, this made Christmas difficult.

Some years, when my parents were doing very well, it was obvious by the gifts we would get. One year, my dad bought us a DVD player that could play five discs. I couldn’t believe my eyes when he brought out that big box from under the Christmas tree. Was this what it was like for well-off families who could buy their kids huge toys every year?

Then there were years where it was obvious that we didn’t have a lot of money. The presents were smaller and they were cheaper. I knew my parents were trying to make it work. They wanted us to at least get something for Christmas, despite not having a lot to give. After a while, I noticed we’d get more candy in our stockings over presents because a bag of candy was cheaper than a bunch of DVDs and CDs.

At the time, I cared a lot more about what I’d get each year than the holiday itself and I stopped liking the holiday altogether because it made me feel so disappointed. It wasn’t fair to my parents that I felt this way because they were doing the best they could, but I was too young to realize that.

Now, I’ve understood those years and have learned to love this holiday not just for the presents you get on Christmas Day, but for how much culture and history is in Christmas. I love all of the traditions and hearing all of the different ways people celebrate this holiday. I love learning about legends and Christmas songs and watching all of the Christmas movies.

There are so many things going on during this time that I can’t help but to want to experience it all. I think Christmas is now my favorite holiday because I’ve realized that the presents don’t really matter in the end.

It’s being around people you care about and being nice to one another that matters.

And I feel like people are just nicer to each other during the holidays. Maybe it’s just me. But if you’re worried about what you’ll get this year, don’t be. The most important thing is who you spend it with and how you spend it.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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22 Signs You're a Region Rat

Close enough to Chicago to claim it yet still maintain our own identity

You can take someone out of the Region, but you can't take the Region out of someone. In a mysterious way, it always seems to bring you back. You have to admit to having pride a little bit of pride relating to at least one of these instances.

1. Being called a "rat" is a compliment, not an insult.

2. You're not even phased when a camel's walking down the middle of the street.

(The language may be a bit much, but what else would you expect from the Region?)

3. You never called Southlake "Westfield" when it changed ownerships. TG it's Southlake, again.

4. There's no better greeting than the sweet smell of the BP oil refineries in Whiting or the steel mills in Gary.

5. You call the expressways by their number, not their name.

"Which is better to avoid Chicago traffic, 80/94 or 90?"

6. Also, yes it is "expressway." It's not "freeway" or "highway." Don't bother arguing.

7. You see more Illinois license plates at gas stations, liquor stores, and cigarette places in the Region than actually in Illinois.

8. It's a sin if you haven't been to Pierogi Fest in a while. It's a greater sin if you've never been to Pierogi Fest.

How can you live with yourself turning down the opportunity to hang out with Mr. Pierogi, Miss Paczki, and the Babushka Brigade?!

9. Pretty much anywhere south of Highland (aka Munster, Schererville, St. John, Dyer, etc.) is considered very fancy.

10. Whenever introducing yourself to new people, you say you're from Chicago just so you can avoid "wait, where is *insert Region city/town* again?"

11. People telling you that you have a Chicago accent and Chicagoans vehemently disagreeing with them.

12. Getting a grimacing look from people when you say your hometown isn't that far from Gary.

13. Lake Central should be its own town with how many kids go there. Seriously.

14. You know how Lincoln's and Miner Dunn are underrated gold mines when it comes to good food.

15. You ride or die with Chicago sports — Bulls, Hawks, Cubs, Sox. If not, you may be ostracized (you probably will).

Even staying loyal to Da Bears because 1985 will always be da best. (There's still a sliver of hope).

16. St. Thomas More and/or SJE always dominated the CYO Christmas tournament during basketball season. Actually, they pretty much dominated in any sport.

17. No other area has anything on our alcohol tolerance. Not a thing.

18. Getting our sources of information from NWI Gazette instead of NWI Times.

19. Following @RegionRatRants never fails to make you laugh, then cry with its accuracy.

One minute it's hilarious for how true it is, the next it's shame for how true it is.

20. By the time the Cline exit off of Calumet gets fixed, hell would have frozen over and it'll be the 12th of never.

21. Your heart breaks a little bit every time Munster Donut is closed because someone drove into it. Again.

This is why we can't have nice things.

22. No matter how much you look forward to leaving, it'll always be home to you as "Chicago's little sibling."

Cover Image Credit: AA Roads

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Christmas Of Remembrance Series: My Last Letter

Christmas time is not about the gifts... It is about something far, far more special.


Dear Reader,

Thank you for your time.

This is a series that I have dedicated to those I have loved and lost. It was merely a thought, then an idea, and now a realized creation. Christmas time… all winter really is a hard time for me. It holds this duality in my life of being both my favorite and also my least favorite and difficult time of year. It has been that way for years now.

In a way, this series aids my closure and healing further, and it allows me to tell my story in a way that, to me, is less scary (one of the many great facets of this platform). It was never my intention to write this in order to reach people, or encourage people, or serve as an inspiration to anyone. This was for me and only me. No one else. But, if these pieces of writing do impact someone, somewhere, or make them feel encouraged or inspired in some way or another, or just simply make them feel, then I hope you have enjoyed them. If I can make someone feel, then I guess I have done my job.

The life of an artist is often an uncertain one. The life of a human is a trying one. But life is a journey, and all journeys have their trials. Their tests. Their triumphs and rewards. And they all have their losses. What matters most is what you make of all of it. What lessons you learn. What changes you make. What life you create for yourself. What art you create because of it all. It can be very, very hard. But it can all be glorious at the same time.

At the heart of this series, my words, there is this deep and valuable belief of mine: Christmas (or the Winter Holiday that you may celebrate) is so much more about presents and cooking and shopping and all that other bullshit… it is about family.

The family that is related by blood. The family that surrounds your heart. Your Mom. Your brother. Your dearest friends. The bonds that make life valuable. Worth living. These bonds are soulful bonds, ones that are far more special than any mere trivial object. So… be with them. Forgive. Forget. Heal. Mend what is broken. Reassemble what has been shattered. And stop worrying so much. Laugh together. Cry together. Heal on another. Heal together. And may your new days be better, brighter, and full of love.

Happy Holidays.


A song for you...

"Sense of Home" — Harrison Storm / YouTube

If you liked this series, I invite you to check out my previous article below…

To My Fellow 孤, The Sons Without Fathers On Father’s Day

As well as this article by a fellow creator…

What You Learn Losing A Parent So Young

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