My daughter and I were putting up Christmas decorations last week when we unwrapped a Santa cup that belonged to me. The Santa cup and a Pinocchio ornament are the only Christmas things I have from my childhood.
I treasure these two items because they remind me of our little house on 12th street, the first home we owned after emigrating from Cuba.
After our second Christmas in McAllen, my mother took advantage of the Christmas sales and bought a Christmas tree. Our tree was not what I had in mind; I had envisioned a beautiful green tree like the kind I would see in the window displays downtown.
We got a silver metallic tree. If you’re as old as I am, you will remember these trees they were very popular in the 1960s.
My mother bought it because it was on sale and it was the only tree we could afford. My childhood was very different from the kind of life my children have had. My children have grown up listening to my childhood stories, but I know that living it and listening to a story are two very different things.
My children have always had the privilege of having a real Christmas tree, the kind that fills your living room with the smell of pine. Our Santa, unlike the Santa I grew up with, can afford most of the things they put on their list.
When I look back on my childhood what I remember the most isn’t a toy I got for Christmas, but it is memories of a home filled with love.
Christmas should be more than just about giving gifts. We need to remember to give our children what they truly need. Our time, our love is a gift so huge it cannot be wrapped up in a box.
But it is a gift that will outlast any store bought gift, and one that your children can tuck away in their hearts forever.