The Frugal Catholic: “Our Best Simple Christmas Ever”: by Martha Wild King,M.Ed.–D

This Christmas is going to be simple.  We will only be with two of our five children, but it will be simple for other reasons too.  We haven’t lived at home for months; instead, we are living out of our nineteen foot caravan (or trailer) parked inside of our third son’s Trayvax factory.  We are being squatters here while we work on renovating our first son’s mobile home nearby. We have simplified because we have less space in which to live.

Downsizing has made me grow mentally.  I’ve become aware of “living small” which is a trend in America  now.  When we lived in Belgium in the 1990’s, we learned first-hand how most people always live small;  in America, however, the trend for most of my sixty-seven years has been to live bigger and own more stuff.  The real problem with “more stuff” is that you have to have a place to put that stuff and a space for the place: thus the advent of storage units where one pays monthly to keep his or her accumulated junk.  But downsizing is part of the American history with pioneers downsizing to the max to get across this vast and varied country.  So this Christmas the only two children whom we will spend it with also live in mobile homes or trailers and don’t have any place to put more stuff either, and both sons have downsized and simplified to the best of their ability.

So in thinking of this Christmas, I began to ruminate on the best Christmas all my children told me they ever had.  It was pathetic in my mind, but to their credit, it was tops.

We were living in Connecticut where Michael was Captain of a fast-attack submarine, so he was gone 70% of the time, and I homeschooled and raised the four children (at that time) all by myself since no relatives were near.  During that December 1993, I became very ill with the flu, and wasn’t even able to purchase gifts for the children;  and remember back then there was no internet shopping for we were just getting into word processers not personal computers.  So I did the only thing I knew I could handle, I gave them each about $20 and took them to Big Lots which is a discount store and let them buy their own Christmas presents.  Then we came home and all four wrapped their own gifts with newspaper and laid them under our $5 artificial three-foot Christmas tree which I had named “Humble.”  Then I went back to bed.

That Christmas morning they awoke me, and we all followed our old family tradition of lighting a candle and saying a prayer of thanks and praise at the top of the stairs then walking down the stairs with the lighted candle.  I collapsed on the nearest couch while my four opened their presents with squeals of delight.  The rest of the day was a blur, and how they fed themselves and got back in bed that evening escaped my notice.  That candle was the only bright spot in my day, but in their little minds, they each had hit the jackpot with their gifts.

The bottom line of this story is Christmas is meant to be simple yet amazing.  It is the story of a loving Father giving His children a path to find salvation through the supreme gift of His Son, Jesus.  And it is a truthful tale of how we are each to live, in simplicity with wonder at our many undeserved gifts.  We are blessed to bless others.