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Judi's avatar

What are some of your best Christmas memories that didn't involve spending money?

Asked by Judi (37152 points ) October 8th, 2008

This is obviously going to be a leaner Christmas for most than we are used to. I have found that my best Christmas memories were the years that my family had the least in the way of “stuff.” Can you share the ways you have experienced the true spirit of Christmas?

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41 Answers

GAMBIT's avatar

I never knew the meaning of Christmas until I got married. My wife and I never give each other presents. We do however give presents to our daughters and our relatives but when we got married she asked that I never give her presents on birthdays, anniversaries and holidays and be good to her all year round. This works for us.

charliecompany34's avatar

electronics games: $600
real christmas tree: $80
groceries for christmas morning breakfast: $100
kids faces: priceless

charliecompany34's avatar

but seriously, true spirit if christmas is the family unit or structure. it’s when you go out together and pick the tree or spontaneously jump in the snow to make snow angels. it’s lighting a fire and watching “it’s a wonderful life” with the whole family or gathering around a piano or guitar (NO TV) singing christmas carols. these are times some families just dont slow down for.

Bri_L's avatar

The first time I got to wake up where my son and daughter could enjoy the experience.

The second best was,
When my family, and my grandma and grandpa were downstairs on christmas eve with a table full of snacks and I saw “It’s a Wonderful Life” for the first time”. It was great.

Nimis's avatar

We were generally poor growing up, though I remember one particular Christmas being particularly tight. For a couple of days leading up to Christmas, things would go missing. Come Christmas morning we found out why. My mother had wrapped them up and put them under the Christmas tree. We couldn’t afford to buy anything new, but she wanted us to have something to open on Christmas.

It was incredibly silly, but also incredibly sweet.

Lovelocke's avatar

Self pleasure.

galileogirl's avatar

Every Christmas Eve we would go out on a drive looking at the lights set up in people’s yards. Somewhere along the line my Dad would “see” Santa and we would get all excited and sometimes we even saw him flying across the sky. Since Santa was leaving it meant it was time to go home and sure enough Santa had been there.

The best year was when I was 13 and my Dad took me aside and explained what happened and I became a part of Santsa’s visit.

SuperMouse's avatar

I refer you to my answer to this question. Of course without some pre-planning and the desire to have a HUGE family, this is not going to happen every year.

marinelife's avatar

Waking up to a pristine Christmas snow.

Singing Christmas carols on the way home from Christmas Eve service.

Making snow ice cream (pre acid rain and pollution).

Hot chocolate after coming inside from a snowball fight.

Making decorations and hanging them on the tree. you can make amazing ones from paper, ribbon, egg shells, popcorn and cranberries, shells and more.

Making Christmas cookies and decorating them with Mom, and then eating them.

cyndyh's avatar

When I was in 2nd or 3rd grade it snowed in Houston -which almost never happens. About an inch stuck on the ground. My dad and the next door neighbor’s dad decided they were going to make a snowman and enter pictures of it into a contest. The kids were all into helping for a while and then we got tired and went inside for hot cocoa and popcorn. We watched through the window for hours while the dads worked on this thing. The “snow bear” ended up being about 7 feet tall with a goofy smile. It was pretty cool to see it and how long it lasted, but it was mostly just funny to see the dads playing in the snow longer than any of the kids.

fireside's avatar

I’m with Supermouse on the referral to the previous question.

Snow forts in the front yard was my favorite Christmas memory.

But you could also get some cement and small plastic molds, then decorate them with cheap glass beads or shiny rocks and crystals. Have everyone tell a strony about their favorite present and what they did with it. Make a collage out of some old photos that you don’t mind cutting.

The idea is to spend some time together, no matter what you are doing.

AnswerMan1980's avatar

Playing drunkin Dominios!

greylady's avatar

When my boys were growing up, we made a kind of party out of decorating the tree. We picked a Saturday between the first and second week of Dec. and invited their grandparents to come for supper. After the meal, we all worked together to decorate the tree, and then sat around with cookies and hot chocolate to admire it. The adults all told stories about when they were young. The boys loved it!

cak's avatar

When I was nine, we went Christmas Caroling with our neighbors and some friends. We baked cookies, packaged them up and went out on our way. We actually had a great time – it was so much fun. Along the way, some people joined us, too. I think about it every year and remember how fun it was and all the people that either invited us in or gave us hot cocoa or hot tea.

VoodooLogic's avatar

A snowball fight with my uncle. The other kids joined on the other side of the fence. A snowball fight became a war! It was 386-Doom-era, but the snow fell freely.

krose1223's avatar

When all 6 kids still lived in the house we used to all sleep in the same room Christmas Eve night. We acted like it was such a drag at first, but we always stayed up all hours of the night just laughing and getting mad at my brother for passing gas. (He was the only boy. Ha.) When we woke up on Christmas we were always so goofy and getting along while we shared inside jokes from the night before. We opened a few presents at our house, then we would always go to Grandma’s house which was a good 45 minute drive. The whole way there we would sing Christmas Carols. My grandma would turn the sprinklers on the night before, so when we pulled up everything was covered in icicles. It was beautiful. Christmas time is my favorite and I have a lot of amazing memories that don’t involve money. My family was always scraping up for money but as far as brothers and sisters go, we were never short on love.

Bri_L's avatar

@krose-awesome!!

maybe_KB's avatar

Serving donations & food @ a bank in Berkeley, CA.
Then sitting down and sharing stories (some heart wrenching) awaiting the secret Santa U-Haul to arrive

Sloane2024's avatar

When my parents first separated, my dad forced my mom, sister, and me out of the house. We moved in with my grandmother, hoping it would only last a couple of months, but when December rolled around, and my hopes of moving back home in time to decorate for Christmas were in vain, my grandmother and great aunt combined their frequent flier miles to help my mom pay for tickets for the three of us (and my grandmother came along as well) to spend Christmas in L.A. with my uncle and aunt. Presents were scarce that year, but for the first time in my life, I was able to just sit around in my pajamas with close family, delighting in the anecdotes they told and the laughter we shared. My uncle prepared an exquisite meal and we watched A Christmas Story over and over again. At the time, I was 14, and during that year, I came to the realization that materials and finances possess no dictation over one’s happiness. That was the best Christmas gift I’ve ever been given.

XrayGirl's avatar

we grew up very poor, so money was rarely involved anyway. I loved going out and riding around other neighborhoods and looking at the lights and decorations. I loved Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grench Who Stole Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman. I loved all the decorations in the malls and on the streetlights through town. I loved the music. I loved believing in Santa Clause and falling asleep at the window in hopes of catching him landing on our roof. I loved Christmas then and love it even more now because I love Jesus Christ so much.

Sloane2024's avatar

Amazing answer, XrayGirl.

madsmom1030's avatar

Christmas has become too much about money and buying gifts for children that they might play with for a month. My favorite Christmas was right after 911. My parents asked if we wanted gifts that christmas. My 4 siblings and I talked it over and decided we didn’t want any presents. our parents asked what we wanted to do instead and we said we would like to donate whatever money they were planning on spending on us to go to the children of 911 that might not get anything for christmas. we weren’t a poor family so we didn’t feel like there way anything we needed so our parents doubled the amount. There were children out there that needed a christmas much more than we did. Christmas is about giving not receiving.

Jeruba's avatar

Decorating the tree has always been special to me. The ornaments have been collected slowly over many years, and now they have a lot of history and memories in them. Seeing them come out again, handling them, and arranging them is a wonderful part of the preparations for me. Reusing familiar decorations means more than anything new.

Baking and cooking are a family affair, too, and everyone pitches in. That time of working together is always great. We also have a family Christmas Eve ceremony that involves some reading aloud and some other long-established fun and serious elements of recognizing the holiday.

It’s the traditions and customs we follow together as a family, the repetition of the familiar and memory-laden rituals that mean the most to me. They matter more than anything that might be under the tree.

Raggedy_Ann's avatar

I remember one Christmas when I was probably 5 or 6 and we got a lot of wet snow in Seattle. My dad, sister and I built this snow ramp in the backyard. Once it was done my sister and I were sliding down it on cardboard and my mom had to get in on the fun. She climbed up, sat on the cardboard and instead of going down the right way she went down the backside.

steelmarket's avatar

Find a local church, go to their Christmas service and sing a lot of carols. Always works for me.

Jack79's avatar

Well, first of all I’ve never fallen into the consumerist trap, so most of my Christmases didn’t involve spending money. As a matter of fact, they usually involved making money, since I was a singer for several years and usually worked on such occasions.

And most holidays as a kid sucked, as they involved a real big family fight and me storming out just after the soup. I’m told my mother used to cook duck for Christmas. I wouldn’t know.

And I don’t remember any good presents either, even though I’m sure I must have gotten a few over the years. It was usually sweaters. All the toys came for my birthday.

So I’m hoping this year will be good. At least I have good company for a change :)

mij's avatar

Our two small sons ignoring presents, we had just moved into a new house and they had the most wonderful time with the cartons from washing machine and oven, kept them amused for days till they finally fell apart… the cartons that is…

mirador's avatar

Finally being old enough to stay up late and go to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, with all the beautiful caroling and decorations and special ceremonies. To a kid, it seemed absolutely majestic!

Trimming the tree – each of the ornaments with so many memories and stories attached. Every year as we take them out we end up retelling those stories once again, but nobody ever gets tired of hearing them!

And in the evenings, turning off all the lights, lighting some candles, putting on some Christmas music, and just sitting and looking at the tree with its tiny lights and the trimmings all sparkling and thinking it really IS a wonderful life!

evegrimm's avatar

One Christmas, my mom, stepdad and I sat down and watched the entire (original) Pink Panther series (it was “rented” from the library, so it was free). Lots of fun, and now I “get” a lot of jokes that I didn’t before.

Also (not Christmas, but still), my friends and I usually get together on New Years’ Eve for a party with nummy food, but no presents. It’s lots of fun just seeing eachother again, and sharing food we’ve made, etc. And we usually watch movies.

turtlegrrrl's avatar

My best Christmas memory is of my grandfather staying with us one year when I think I was four. I loved the smell of his pipe, eating the goldfish crackers he always had with him, having the Archway cookies my mom would set out, and his taking us out into the woods, cutting grapevines and then making wreaths for my mother and for our neighbors. I know this part involves money, but my grandpa also always brought a little bag of old silver dollars with him for us to spend (which my dad would then buy from us and never let us spend). he was a very interesting, quirky, wise old man who died a few years after this Christmas, but he made it the very best one ever for me (OK I admit he also brought me four puppies).

rMacker83's avatar

Personally there is nothing like going to mass on Christmas Eve, if you are of Christian faith that is. There is something special about those holiday hymns. Thanks for bringing that up !! Such great memories :)

Fred931's avatar

Well, when you receive something, obviously you aren’t paying anything for it, so I guess that’s my answer.

Judi's avatar

I love when a question comes back to life after a year. It must be someone’s sibbling!

cyndyh's avatar

I remember the Christmas in the 80s when I got a frizzer. It was all uphill after that.

_Jade_'s avatar

I come from a large family and one year we decided that we were not going to spend a boatload of money on gifts. We drew names and set a $1.00 (yes..ONE DOLLAR) limit to spend on a present. You would not believe what some of us ended up with! It was great! Most fun we have had in a while. :-)

xStarlightx's avatar

The best thing I think for me is going to church on Christmas Eve. They have a beautiful service where the whole church is decorated in red gold and green, they have candles lit, a huge tree. It really is beautiful. The best part about this is not only the message but at the end of the service all the lights are shut off and we light candles and sing silent night. As a child my mom would always take me and my brother to the later service so the entire church would be dark all except for a simple candle light.

addictionsfb's avatar

We as a family would go downtown and help serve Christmas Dinner to the hundreds of homeless men and women and children. We still do that to this day. We sometimes bring gifts of hats, gloves, the essentials wrapped up or not. Sure does make me feel like a better person. Plus I have befriended a lot of them and sometimes can help tell a story to the local media to help bring and raise awareness.

MissA's avatar

This Christmas will go down as a great one. All of my life, I’ve been waiting for my father’s love and acceptance. This year, he is in the hospital with stage four Parkinson’s Disease and complications because of it. He can’t talk…and, may not make it…but, when I flew there to be with him, the look in his eyes told me that we are alright. There is love there. He cannot talk with his mouth, but his eyes did. No matter what happens, I am grateful for those moments.

yankeetooter's avatar

Coming out of church at midnight one year, and it was snowing…

Ron_C's avatar

This is going to make me seem like a pervert but it’s true. I was about 13 and we were getting ready for midnight mass. My dad and brothers were rushing around and I went to the kitchen sink for a glass of water. Directly across from our window but up one story was the bedroom of one of our neighbors girls. One was my age the other a couple years younger. Anyway the light came on and I saw my first topless girl. Fortunately, everyone else in the house was busy so I had the vision to myself.

It also took a good bit of time to get rid of the evidence of my excitement. That was my best Christmas ever.

Dsg's avatar

We have hot chocolate with marshmallows and trim the Christmas tree together to Christmas songs. We make Christmas cookies together and they usually decorate a Gingerbread house. I hide the Christmas pickle ornament somewhere in the tree and the boys try to find it. (It’s a tradition from Germany, I think, where whoever finds the Christmas pickle gets a special present or good luck. I can’t remember :p I’ll have to read the jar before I hang it on the tree) The boys also have an Elf on the Shelf doll, they name Frosty. Frosty is supposed to move every morning into a different spot. The elf goes back to Santa at night to report if the boys are being good or bad. It was fun last year because a couple times Frosty the elf forgot to travel and was in the same spot in the morning. :) I told the boys that Frosty must have been tired. Lol He then moves before they come home from school. We also open up 1 present on Christmas Eve. We leave cookies and milk for Santa and a slice of cheese for the Christmas mouse. I put together a package of oats and glitter for the reindeer that the boys sprinkle on the snow (if there is snow) and it helps them fly and have more energy to go to more houses!

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