CHRISTMAS WHEN I WAS A KID

I grew up in a large family with little money. There were 9 of us in all. I had 5 sisters and a brother. My family survived on the one check my dad brought home each week. $114 a week to take care of all nine of us.

Christmas’ were the best. We’d start asking Mom if we could put up the Christmas tree as soon as Halloween was over. When it came to presents we never got much, so we appreciated what we did get. You could expect every year at Christmas one gift from Santa Clause and one gift from Mom & Dad. My brothers and sisters also drew names each year so we’d get one gift from the brother or sister that drew our name. Three gifts were about it. Oh, did I mention the presents from Mom & Dad were always clothes? That was pretty yuk as a kid, but it was what we really needed.

My family had it’s Christmas traditions too. Christmas eve was when we’d open our presents. But we didn’t just open the presents all at once. I guess to make it last longer, we’d pass out all the presents, and then one person at a time (from youngest to oldest) would open a present. You weren’t allowed to open your present until the younger brother or sister in front of you had completely opened theirs. Then it was off to bed because Santa was coming that night. Going to bed on Christmas eve seemed impossible, but somehow we always did it. You could always expect your “good” present to come from Santa Clause. It was going to be a toy of some kind.

I remember the year my brother and I got the electric race car set we’d asked for. We played that thing non-stop. I also remember the year of the BB-guns. Boy, did Mom ever regret getting us those. Oh, and how about the electric football game? Remember how the little football players would “shake around” when you turned on the switch? And then there was the bicycle Christmas. It is probably the Christmas I remember best. The four younger kids had all asked for new bikes. We hadn’t ever had brand-new bicycles . Dad had told us many times that year, “Don’t get your hopes up. Santa can’t afford new bicycles this year.” Low and behold, new bikes that year. We were shocked to say the least, and on a salary of around $114 a week, Santa was a hero again.

It was all too cool. The old days. Back before X-box, DVD players and I-Pods. Back in what seemed to be the simpler times.

So, that’s a few of my memories. What do you remember about Christmas when you were a kid? Any traditions? Any special gifts? Click the comments button below and let me know.

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
17 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Dane Fuller says:

    Trey, that’s an awesome story. I grew up in a much much smaller family but we didn’t have a lot either. We didn’t know it though. We always had what we needed & that was enough. Our Christmas Eve’s were always spent at my Grandparents house. They had the big family; 5 boys, which included my Dad, & 1 girl, all of which had several kids of their own. It didn’t take long for the house to be bulging at the seams with uncles, aunts, a few great uncles & aunts, and of course the grandkids. Even though none of us had a whole lot of money, like your family, we’d always draw names so ther’d be tons of gifts under the tree. One year, Papaw didn’t have enough money to go buy a Christmas tree after buying gifts for all of us grandkids. He went out into the pasture & cut down a cedar tree, drug it home & put it up. It was beautifuly decorated & looked real nice….for about a week. By the time Christmas Eve rolled around, it was brown & it’s branches could barely hold up the ornaments. This was a long time ago before twinkle lights. The lights back then were those big ol’ bulbs that got hot enough to burn you if you touched them. All of us kids wanted to turn on the lights but everybody kept saying “NO!” Finally, one of the younger cousins crawled around behind the TV & pulgged them in. Before anyone could react; WHOOSH the tree went up in flames. Adults were picking up & throwing kids out of the way. One uncle knocked over the tree & began beating it out with his coat. Kids were crying, Moms were screaming, Dads were yelling. It was absolute chaos. Finally one of the uncles got the front door open & another tossed the tree outside. The house was filled with smoke & we spent the rest of the night with our coats on & all the windows & doors open. Not a hair was singed or a finger burned. We all look back on that Christmas Eve & laugh now but no one was laughing that night. I’ll never forget that Christmas for as long as I live.

  2. Trey says:

    Dane…

    Great story. I can just see the total chaos as the tree goes up in flames. Ha. You guys had the first “Griswold Family Christmas” (like on Christmas Vacation) with the tree thing. No squirrels in the live cedar tree though? Those are the Christmas’ we never forget.

    You know, funny thing is, back then we didn’t know we didn’t have much.

    Hereโ€™s an interesting point on the Christmas tradition thing. My family now, has kept the “open one gift at a time” tradition. But a tradition we’ve added is we all sit down sometime during the month of December and watch “Christmas Vacation” with Chevy Chase in it. New traditions weโ€™ll pass on.

  3. Kathleen says:

    Growing up in Sanderson we were at least 6 hours away from every relative we had so when we had any spare time we headed towards family. Most of the time that meant coming to Childress! One year our plans were to get up early on Christmas day and leave for Childress hoping to get there in time for Christmas dinner.

    I’m pretty sure that Santa had only been gone a few moments when my youngest sister, Amy, decided to sneek into the living room and see if he had, in fact, been there. Once realizing that he had, she felt compelled to wake up my other sister, Carole, and they both came in and announced to me that there were presents under the tree. Naturally I had to confirm. It was 12:00 a.m.!

    We tried to be has quiet as possible but within minutes my dad was standing in the doorway watching us. We all decided we would wake Mother up and let her join in the fun. We certainly didn’t want to leave anyone out! By 1:00 a.m. we had opened up all the presents.

    Then dad boldly made the comment that we might as well load up and head for Childress. Mother knew that we would be leaving early and had packed everything in the pickup the previous night. She just hadn’t realized just how early it would be.

    We stepped on Grandmother and Grandpa’s front porch at five till 8:00 that Christmas morning. I still remember the look on Grandpa’s face when he opened up the door.

    We had arrived with very little incident (that’s another story) and had one of the most memorable Christmas’ ever.

  4. Randy says:

    Very similar story as yours Trey. One present at a time. But the one thing that sticks out to me is “Dadaw” making us sing X-mas songs. It was and is the most horrible display of singing. But it is sweet to his ears. Randy

  5. Dallana Loper says:

    Well Trey, you’ve done it again. I don’t know how you do it. I always enjoy reading what you write. You brought tears to my eyes. Daddy and Moma ALWAYS made sure we had a good Christmas even though their means were very limited. I don’t know how they did it. Those were simpler times weren’t they? I remember when Kel got that same football game. We always opened our gifts on Christmas Eve too and waited for Santa and of course could hardly go to sleep because of the anticipation. We alternated years with the Tucker/Carlile sides. We always had so much fun getting to be with cousins. FAMILY is what it’s all about. We learned about how important family is from the best. These days we also tend to forget the true meaning of Christmas. I need to remind my kids of this and help them teach it to my grandkids. You are such a wonderful father and example to all. We should all take lessons from you. Love to you and Lea and the boys and have a wonderful holiday!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for bringing back the great times. It just goes to show how much more special life is when you remove the expensive things in life. To bad our kids won’t have these memories. They probably think hard times are “eating at McDonalds” and not being able to afford a happy meal. Monalea

  7. Trey says:

    Dallana, You are sweet. Most folks around here are going to think I paid you to say those things about me. ha

  8. Anonymous says:

    Trey, you’re going to look like a dork rather anyone comments or not! just kidding! Man, I feel sorry for you growing up with all that estrogen. I bet you have some good stories on your sister. Some of my favorite Xmas memories come from waking up at my Memaw’s house to the smell of pancakes and bacon on Christmas Eve. I love the eating that the Christmas season promotes!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Trey, I always enjoy reading,and hearing your stories. I understand how it is to grow up and your parents making big sacrifices to give you the very best Christmas possible. We always had Christmas Eve at my mom’s parents and then Christmas Day at my dad’s parents. But I do remember those time when I didnt get quite what I had wanted but it was ok. Great story Trey, keep on writing!

    John Exumm

  10. Trey says:

    New Traditions? Any new traditions that you have started in your families now that you didn’t do when you were growing up?

  11. Lea says:

    We get an ornament each year and put our name & date on it. The year Taylor got his driver license, we got him a car ornament. Parker’s usually have something to do with hunting or fishing. We got Connor one that looks like a pickle one year because he loves pickles. We can’t always find an ornament to suit their interests, but it’s fun trying. After the tree goes up, we all put on our own ornaments. Since Cooper only has a handful yet, he usually helps Trey & I put ours on the tree. When the boys are married and have families of their own, MAYBE I will give them their ornaments. (Their wives probably won’t want them on their tree.)

  12. Bruce Baird says:

    Trey,

    It seems like it was only “yesterday” when all nine of us gathered around the christmas tree to patiently open a few presents one by one. In reality, its been 34 years since that first christmas we all had together. I have the same memories as you, Trey. One thing I remember before Christmas, when we finally persuaded mom and dad to put up the tree, was the ritual of dad, eventhough he didn’t appear to enjoy it, untangling the lights and putting them on the tree. It seemed like a struggle, and he even made it sound like a huge burden but I believe deep down he enjoyed that ritual of fussing and bah humbugging as he checked each bulb to see which one wasn’t working! I relish the same ritual and right every year. The kids enjoy the fake bah humbugging, and helping me find that nasty little bulb that has gone bad. It would be easy to through money at the problem and buy a new set of lights – but that seems to defy dad’s logic.

    Another memory is shooting the christmas bulbs off the tree with those infamous bb guns and using Joshua, our oldest nephew, as an escape goat.

    Those are just two out of many memories. Thanks mom and dad!

    May God Bless us and continue to grant us good, posiitve wholesome memories!

    Bruce Baird

    PS – Fighting the urge to “grow-up” I have asked my wife to NOT BUY CLOTHES for me – just toys, just toys for me baby! I let you know how I made out.

  13. Trey says:

    (Quote by Bruce) Another memory is shooting the christmas bulbs off the tree with those infamous bb guns and using Joshua, our oldest nephew, as an escape goat. (UnQuote)

    Mom, If you are reading this quote by Bruce … I don’t have any clue what my brother is talking about, he’s obviously talking crazy, I promise mom ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. Danny Sims says:

    I am the youngest of five, so I relate. And I LOVED our electric football.

    There are leagues that take it seriously. A friend of ours is into it.

    Seriously.

    I always lost the little felt footballs.

  15. Rebekah M says:

    HEY!! i remember stuff like that, not much money and i think that that was the best christmas’s ever. people now days think that it is about how much you spend and it really isn’t or how many gifts you get and its not. it’s how much time you spend with family. thank you so much for reminding me what christmas was about! love ya

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hey Trey Dad also read the Night Before Christmas before we opened our prizes. One of my favorites still is calling each other on Cristmas eve and saying Christmas Eve gift and Christmas Gift on Christmas day trying to beat each other. Morgan called me and thanks to caller ID I beat him. He hung up and called me back beat him again. Love you Morgan Our Christmas’ at home were the best!! Love you too Trey and family and to my side of the family and to Tommys side too that read this love you guys too. Cindy

  17. Trey Morgan says:

    Hi Cindy (one of my long lost sisters),

    Glad to see you showing up around here :)

    Thanks for the note and the “what you remember” thoughts. I hope you’ll swing back by again.

    Love ya – Trey

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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