Makeshift Christmas- That One Time My Mom Saved Christmas.

Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of year. Not just because of all of the Christmas cheer and love, but because of the traditions. Trimming the tree is my favorite of all the traditions. One year, when I was 4 years old, we almost didn’t have a tree.  My mom not only saved Christmas, she made it even better than expected. I know you have questions, so let me explain.

We didn’t grow up with a lot of money at all, but that never stopped my parents from giving us the best damn childhood filled with magical memories. My dad was great, but my mom was basically the Steve Jobs of crafts. She would find things around the house to make anything her little heart desired. If she didn’t have the money to buy something for us, she’d just make it.

Many times my mom had to improvise on the things we needed/wanted and the Christmas tree fell in to the category a few times. Once, we were very tight on cash, so my mom cut a tree out of a large cardboard box, colored it with green crayon and balled up pieces of aluminum foil to adorn the “tree” as ornaments. She leaned it against the corner in the living room and held it up with other boxes. POW! Instant Christmas tree.

Another time, again on a tight budget, my mom decided to go for a more avant-garde tree that was not only ahead of the trends, but also super frugal. She got my sisters and I in the car, told us we were going to “pick out a Christmas tree” and then drove us to the woods behind our townhouse complex. Confused, we followed her out of the car, she passed us each plastic grocery bag and told us to collect pine cones while she looked for the “tree”. We did what she told us even though we didn’t have a clue what the hell she was about to do.

After a while, she came back to us when a long, thin branch and said, “OK guys, I found the tree!” Come again? You found the what? We laughed because we thought this clearly had to be a joke. But no. She was serious. She took the “tree” home, spray painted it and the pine cones gold,stuck it in a tree stand and had the nerve to drape lights from it. Jesus, take the wheel. Although we were thoroughly mortified when our friends came over,it’s still one of my fondest Christmas memories.

P.S. My mom is so ahead of the times that the same branches and pine cones she made 20+ years ago are now being sold at Home Goods for $30-$40.  So basically, she’s a trendsetter.

My all-time favorite mom save is a story I don’t even really remember because I was only 4 years old at the time. But every time my big sister and mom recall what happened, it reminds me of just how bomb my mom truly is.

As you probably guessed, it was Christmas time. Money was tight and my parents didn’t get paid until Christmas Eve.  They told us that on Christmas Eve we would go pick out our tree and decorate it that night. Problem was, by the time we went out looking for a tree, all the tree lots were either closed or out of trees. My big sis, Bonnie, and I were majorly bummed because we would be going to bed without a Christmas tree.

When we pulled up to our home and my dad opened the garage, both my parents noticed a tiny old Christmas tree shoved in the corner of the storage shelving on the walls. It must’ve been left there from the tenants that were in the home before us. They glanced at each other in excitement, but still kept their cool as to not alert us of what they found. They got us in the bed and my mom told us everything would be fine when we woke up.

My mom is Mexican, so our tradition is to open our gifts at midnight. So she had around 4 hours to work her magic and man did she ever! She had my dad pull the tiny, little tabletop tree from the garage and she set it on a table in the corner of the living room. She gathered all of the decorations she had from the previous years along with the large box of string lights she had purchased earlier that day (she intended on putting them on the tree we weren’t able to get) and she got straight to work.

At midnight, when it was time to wake up and hopefully “catch Santa”, we walked downstairs to what Bonnie describes a “Winter Wonderland”. My mom decorated the hell out of that baby ass tree and then used the remaining lights and ornaments to decorate the entire living room! She had string lights hanging from the ceiling and windows which made the whole room literally glow. It was incredible. She’s incredible.

My mom literally never let us go without a tree no matter how broke we were. Hell, she never let us go without anything no matter how broke we were. I always think about that when trying to build memories with my family. Our childhood memories are the greatest gifts my mom could’ve ever given us.

So start a tradition. Bake cookies with your kids. Have snowball fight. Make a Christmas tree. Anything, really, as long as it involves you and your kids building tradition. The gifts are awesome and so is the food but 20-30 years later, what you’ll cherish the most are the memories.

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