Keep Calm, It’s Only Christmas

My parents tell a story that helps  me to put Christmas in perspective.  Both of  my parents grew up in conditions of poverty.  My Grandmother candled eggs for a living to provide for my mother.  My father grew up in a house without running water.  He and his sisters were later put in an orphanage.  At the age of 18 my dad was released from the orphanage into the care of a foster home to help him get on his feet.  That didn’t work out as planned and my dad joined the Air Force as an NCO.

My parents and I spent my first Christmas together in Hawaii where my dad was stationed.  They were poor, but happy.  Through extreme frugality my parents put back a bit of money for my first Christmas.  My Dad was so proud to think that he would have the means to provide a Christmas  for his new little family.

Then the tire on their very used, only car blew.  The cost of a used tire would take every bit of the money my parents had saved for that first Christmas.  They had to have that new to them used tire, because that was my Dad’s only means to get to work each day.

My mom says that one of the few times she’s seen my dad cry was when he took that hard saved Christmas fund and bought that used tire that barely had more tread on it than the one that had blown.

My parents and I made it through that Christmas and of course, I don’t even remember it.  It’s a real life story of  how Christmas should be about love over material items that has been passed down to me and now to my children.


I start to think about this story around this time of year since Parker was born.

The uncertainty of Parker’s Pulmonary Hypertension always hangs over me.  This uncertainty is part of a compilation of events that has lead to me needing to learn how to deal with panic attacks severe enough for my GP to insist that I head to the ER to make sure I wasn’t having a heart attack.

I’m thankful my heart is fine.  Not so thankful for the triggers that have worn my sympathetic nervous center to shreds.

Along with the usual stuff like sedated echoes and right heart caths, finances and nervous making letters from our private insurance company, one of the things that can give my self talk a one way ticket to panic land is the thought of how I’m going to pull off Christmas again this year.

Yes, I know that isn’t what the season is about.

I also know that I’m not alone here.

I’m telling myself to keep calm, it’s only Christmas.

There are many families of medically fragile children with special needs who find themselves facing the same difficulties that we do.   Other families looking for ways to put Christmas in perspective and create our own stories of love that aren’t represented by how much we spend.


Let’s share our ideas to make the season bright without a focus on material items.

I don’t have a ton of time these days to craft.  So the ideas I’m collecting have to be something I can create in little time with supplies I can find on sale or already have.

So far I’ve got these ideas on my list:

It’s easy to find fun things to create for my daughters and daughter in law.  Not so easy for the men of the house.  I could do food, but I’m already going to be relying on homemade treats to make the season a little brighter throughout the month.

I don’t sew.  My Grandmother could look at an item an recreate it from a flour sack.  My mom also has mad sewing skills.

Me?  I break out in hives just getting near the sewing section at Walmart.

Reed and I have talked about not doing gifts at all and just finding a service project or two to participate in.

Then there is the question of married kids vs. kids still at home.  How do you do this?   Do you still spend the same amount on your children that are married as you do on the kids that are still at home, making the cost of Christmas go from 6 kids to 8?

Or do you take what you would spend on your kid and split it between them and their spouse?  If so, what do you do when grand kids come around?

Christmas has also become a time where we purchase needs rather than the shiny electronic filled wants of long ago.  Letters to Santa from our house include things like underwear, gas cards, a new pair of black pants to teach in, a gift card for haircuts, a new jacket, a pair of running shoes.

Christmas Tree


Can you find the Parky in the Christmas tree?

Our Christmas tree met an untimely demise last year.  Do I purchase another one?  Parker is still in the take every decoration off that he can reach stage of life.  Having to redecorate that tree multiple times a day is not as fun as one might think.

The bottom line is that while we’ve drastically cut down what we spend on Christmas since Parker was born, this year the downsizing needs to be taken to new heights.  Or would that be lows?


If I had the talent that Brandi has in her pinkie finger, I’d be set. Guess that’s what I get for rolling my eyes at the thought of taking any homemaking classes when I was young.  That and the fact that even a glue can  intimidate me.

I should have thought more about Christmas during yard sale season, but I was more focused on the yard sale we had to send Parker to Now I Can.

So, I’ve shared my thoughts and ideas.  I’d really be grateful if you’d share yours.  Either in the comments section below or on my Facebook page,  it all works.










About Tammy and Parker

Special Needs Blogger, and homeschooling Mom, heavily involved in advocacy for all kids with special needs in Utah.


  1. I can relate, not in the medically-fragile-child, but trying to make Christmas out of next to nothing way. :) I don’t think advice is necessarily helpful. But I can kind of understand, for what that’s worth. When I was about 8 years old, the oldest of 6, funds were tight and my parents gathered us kids to tell us the truth about Santa and how this year would be a homemade Christmas. It’s the most memorable Christmas of my childhood, at least up until the time (when I was 10) my mother put together a Christmas Eve program to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, that we continued every year after. I’ve had a lot of yarn donated to me, so am using the crocheting learned and added to here or there ever since I was twelve, crocheting like mad making gifts for Christmas: hot pads, washcloths, scarves, a blanket. But if anyone were to give me a crafty idea I wasn’t comfortable with it would totally give me hives. I’m feeling enough pressure, you know? My feeling is that the best you can do, all the love you can give, is enough. The Lord makes it more. You have given so much to your family. They get Christmas all the time. :)

    • Rebecca, thank you so much for sharing your ideas! I LOVE what you Mom did! Except for Parker, my kids are all older, so I really shouldn’t be so stressed about this time of the year. I guess it is just something that is ingrained in me, that I am working on. Like I said most of our lists include things they would need anyway. I’m worked on making a list so that I at least know the direction I’m going in and can get WORKING instead of WORRYING!

  2. Oh, and I’ve had some luck with (Second-hand toys/books for Christmas, clothes for kids, even yarn when I needed a particular color. :) )

  3. FunMumX3 says:

    Trying to think outside of the box (no pun intended) for you. I have moved to giving gifts of experience to the family (we only do immediate family) and I’ve bought theatre or show tickets. but these are pricey (I feel very blessed to be able to). But the thought occurred to me… what about the gift of time? Maybe a gift of a favourite meal cooked and one-on-one time with each family member, private dinner party style (dressed up a must) and you could give as a certificate redeemable for a date of their choosing? As they move in to adult life these opportunities become less and less and would probably be very special. Just you and hubby, and each kid (+partner if applicable) and one of the other kids to watch Parker?

  4. Sandra says:

    You don’t know me but I have been following Parker’s story. I have an artificial tree that I bought 3 or 4 years ago at an after Christmas sale with the intent of doing a tree for the festival of trees in memory of our daughter. That hasn’t happened yet and I don’t know when we will have the opportunity to do that but that leaves me with a 6 1/2 foot unopened artificial tree just taking up room in my garage. I think my daughters memory would be just as honored if we allowed that tree to bless your family. I live in provo. You can email me at if you would like to have it.

  5. Sandra, you are such a sweetheart. I think maybe we should put our heads together and figure out how we can help you get your daughter’s tree to the Festival of Trees. xoxo

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