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My Take: Being poor on Christmas
December 17th, 2011
11:59 PM ET

My Take: Being poor on Christmas

Editor's Note: Tangela Ekhoff is an inspirational speaker, comedy performer and ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. She blogs about marriage, motherhood and life in Oklahoma at Homegirl on the Range.

By Tangela Ekhoff, Special to CNN

(CNN) - For my husband and me, the crown jewel of success as parents is the shrieks and wanton joy that come when our children open presents on Christmas morning. It’s enough to breach the dams in my eyes. Every year, my husband (the better shopper) picks one big-ticket gift for our boys, the one we call “the Showstopper!”

The Showstopper is the present that is either No. 1 on their wish list or the one they didn’t even know they wanted, until they make confetti of the shiny paper that conceals the happiness wrapped inside. The Showstopper is THE gift. It’s so awe-inspiring that it causes an intermission to present-opening and signals the point when the boys forsake all other gifts to play with the Showstopper. Last year, it was Chuck the Talking Dump Truck.

This year, there will be no Showstopper.

I wish I could say we are avoiding the Showstopper out of solidarity for Americans who are too poor to afford Christmas. I wish we were that socially conscious. This year, the Showstopper will not be part of the Ekhoff family Christmas, because this year, we are the poor.

We moved from Montgomery, Alabama, to my husband’s childhood home of Owasso, Oklahoma, with high hopes and great expectations for opportunity. It is not going as well as we hoped. We have applied for several hundred jobs between us. I was rejected for a job at a chicken restaurant. I am from Alabama. I was born with a frying pan in one hand and a hunk of lard in the other. I’m still mad about not getting that job.

In a former life, my husband was a computer technician. In this life, he slings pizza, rakes leaves, shovels snow, cuts grass and bakes cakes, but it still is not enough money to pay for basics, let alone any utility bills. I use both of my worthless college degrees as microfiber cloths to fight grime as a house cleaner, and out here in Oklahoma, people are not as willing to pay for this service as they are in the South. I speak publicly and perform comedy, but gigs are harder to come by than we originally anticipated.

We thought the move to Oklahoma would turn it all around and send us sashaying back into our middle-class life. Instead, it has given us the final shove into the abyss of poverty. For us, 2011 has been the Worst. Year. Ever.

This is also the first year in the history of our family that we will not buy gifts for some unknown poor child as part of an Angel Tree project. Every year, we would buy hats, socks, mittens, jackets and/or toys for some poor child.

This year, at some church or business in our town, there are two construction paper Christmas stockings hanging on an Angel Tree with our sons’ wish list printed on them. This year, our sons are “those poor kids.” This year, if there is a Showstopper, it will not be purchased by us but by a generous, anonymous individual or family with the means to help us, the underprivileged family.

On the Christian calendar, the season leading up to Christmas is known as Advent. During Advent, Christians pray and light candles to remind us to wait expectantly and prepare for the miracle of the birth of Jesus Christ. This year, Advent is more meaningful to me than ever. This year, our family has lost so much, and I continually pray for a miracle. As our family awaits the celebration of the birth of Jesus, we anticipate and long for a better world not just for us but for others who suffer in the “new” economic reality: poverty.

My greatest hope, as we await the birth of Jesus, is that God restores our family financially. Yes, it’s selfish. I am grateful the Angel Tree project is available to provide my children and hundreds of children in my town with presents this Christmas. But, selfishly, I pray that next year there will be no Angel Tree. My husband and I are both intelligent and hard-working. We want nothing more than to provide for our children.

As we struggle with the new normal, we pray (yes, selfishly) that during this Advent, as we wait for Jesus’ light to shine upon the world, that a sliver of that miraculous light will shine on our little family. Like a child anticipating the rapturous joy of opening presents on Christmas morning, I hold on to my faith and anticipate a rebirth, a renewal, a restoration for our family.

I expect a miracle. And in this season of Advent, miracles happen every single day.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Tangela Ekhoff.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Christmas

soundoff (1,294 Responses)
  1. Abbyka

    What everyone that is posting so much negativity needs to realize is that it is not about meterialism. It's about hope. This one day a year we can forget for one moment that we are poor and that things are worse than they were last year. Most of the gifts I got my kids this year were from the dollar store but that won't matter to them because it's more than they get all year long. I don't want my kids to look back on their childhood and remember how poor we were(it's year two since my husband lost his job and we don't see the light at the end of the tunnel yet). If I can create one happy memory a year for them I'm going to do it. Even if I have to do every side job I have to in order to afford a few cheap gifts and some candy canes. This year I sold some of my artwork and jewelry and did some online survey sites to make money for gifts. Every single night I stayed up until 4 am was worth it.

    December 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Kevin

      I appreciate your post. You remind me of my mom, a hardworking, inspirational mother. Best wishes to you and your family this holiday season and wish you a better 2012.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Abbyka

      You have no idea how good that makes me feel to hear.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • ElanieLanie

      That was a really sweet post. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      December 18, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  2. Michele

    The author has merely written about one part of what had become their Christmas. There is obviously so much more between the lines in what she wants to share with all of you. And her continued faith IS inspiring. God bless you and your family this Christmas, Tangela. And may I also suggest you try submitting a short story or essay for publishing. This is so much better than the usual holiday crap in the remainder bins in the box book stores. When one door closes, another opens, etc... but I'm sure you know that!

    December 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  3. Jackie

    First of all...leave Oklahoma. There is nothing there. Head to Texas...Houston....there you will find a good job! Good luck!

    December 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Jacob

      ABSOLUTELY. You're one of the minority of Americans who still thinks correctly. I myself have moved 5 times in the last 4 years in order to take promotions and pay raises. Too many people don't realize that they paint themselves into a very tiny corner, in regards to upward advancement, when they are unwilling to relocate. If you aren't willing to make the sacrifices to improve your quality of life, then I can not feel bad when the life you have turns out poorly. For better or worse this is the nature of the world we now live in, and the world isn't going to bend to individual wants.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  4. toby

    It's funny when mammy groids get upset when the cops shoot their "childen." "D'Andre! They done kill D'Andre! They shot my boy! [rolling around in the middle of the street] They shot D'Andre! Lawdy! Oh, Lawdy!"

    December 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • rwbj

      You're nothing more than an ignorant, bigoted, racist piece of trash!

      December 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  5. Woodchuck

    Tangela, I hear you. What you got is the 'Wow, even a $30 toy that brings out the giggles in my kids is just too expensive this year." Folks who got all huffy about this and pulled out everything from political blame to religious anguish – this is about not affording a 'big' gift for the kids. My dad would bring us a board game and yay, it WAS a show stopper. Tangela isn't talking about giving the kids a trip to Disney World – it's just that one 'big' present that the kids love the most, like the $30 Talking Dump Truck. And we're talking young kids here – the ones who love Christmas with all the bright lights, happy music, and yeah, even the one cool toy they wished for. They'll still have it, it's just times are a bit too tough for that extra thing, unless somehow we all drop $1 into an envelope and send it to Tangela. I'd love to do just that!

    December 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  6. alisa

    MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!! <3

    December 18, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  7. Latrina

    White people beez racist n' shiit! Yu jelus cuz we be geneuses n' shiit! Jew crakas!

    December 18, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  8. trueman

    SHEBOON.

    December 18, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Latrina

      who yu be callin' "sheboon," craka? yu jelus cuz we smart an butiful!

      December 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  9. Abbyka

    This is our second Christmas since my husband lost his job. He's since been employed somewhere else but it's not nearly enough to make end's meet. Last year we were included with our town's "Shop with a Cop" which was basically a police officer took our children to walmart and shopped with them. This year a woman's club got my children a few things(none of which were actually on their wish lists). Thankfully I found ways to make money online to be able to get the things on my children's wish lists that I could afford. Doing so was almost a 24/7 job since october though. We're hoping next year my husband will be making more money so we won't have to rely on charity anymore. I just don't want to see my children's eyes go dull on Christmas morning when they see no gifts under the tree. Christmas is magical for kids and they shouldn't be deprived of it. I still hold a lot of resentment towards my husband's previous job for letting him go.

    December 18, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • rwbj

      abbyka, I have been there in your situation for 3 Christmas days now. It is heartbreaking not to be able to provide for your kids in the manner that you would like. We have had charity from families/organizations for Christmas gifts. This year a friend of ours bought our Thanksgiving day meal. The kids knew it. It's not easy by any stretch.

      I won't tell you to hang tough, the same thing everyone tells me. Sooner or later it has to get better. In the meantime we do the best we can for the kids and hope for a better future for them.

      You and your kids will have a great holday, regardless of gifts. It is obvious that you love them, and that is the best gift we can give to our children.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Abbyka

      We hear that a lot too but it just doesn't seem to ever get better. It always seems to get worse! I know thats a horrible way to think but we really are hanging on month to month. We've had our phone (landline) turned off multiple times this year which is hard for me because my family lives several states away. And we almost lost our apartment on top of that. We've had opportunities come up and slip through our fingers for the past two years, it gets VERY hard to continue to think positively after so many times of something not coming through.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  10. emilysmom

    Why judge this mother? my husband and I work hard to provide for our children. To suddenly have it gone would be very hard for us to deal with also. I am very thanful to have what we have. I will pray for her and her family.

    December 18, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Kevin

      I agree with your sentiment about compassion. Wishing you and your family a happy holidays 🙂

      December 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  11. Jacob

    A few things stick out to me here as being HUGE indicators or how misguided many people are in the United States. I say the United States because, while I travelled the world in the military, I didn't see a fraction of the materialism in other countries that we see here.

    I'm not going to lie. It's incredibly sad to me that "The Crown Jewel of Success" of being a parent for this woman is teaching her kids that happiness = materialism. Without realizing it this woman expemplifies the hyper consumer economy we live in. No doubt, although she is not high income, she considers "The Crown Jewel of Success" for life to be having nice cars and a huge house that she can not afford. For her children she is teaching that, although they don't have money, success means having things that once again they can not afford. Sorry, but this is just screwy to me.

    So, to her, as a parent, why not make "The Crown Jewel of Success" for yourself as a parent to be ensuring that your kids study hard, go to college, and finish grad school. Try teaching your kids that "material items" come with hard work and that hard times require sacrifice. Heck, how about teaching that even when times aren't hard they STILL require sacrifice. Make the lesson one of intelligence and maturity. Relay to them that a lot of us will live into our 80s or 90s and that by foregoing these things now we can ensure that we'll be comfortable when we struggle to walk.

    Please teach your kids about the future, and learn yourself what the future will hold for your physically and as you age. This is all around a story that I can not possibly feel badly about.

    December 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Kevin

      I feel bad for her that she struggles to pay her utility bills. I agree with your point about her crown jewel comment. Christmas is about compassion and giving, (and I"m glad that in the past she gave to the Angel Tree project), not about keeping up with the Joneses (or in tabloid culture, the Kardashians). It's about being grateful for one's health, family, food in one's stomach, a roof over one's head, etc. Just being alive. I can empathize with her though that she lost her job, and that her husband is unemployed, and that it's hard to make end's meet.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Klw

      Is this woman's work ethic not evident in her story? I feel sorry for you.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  12. Fletch

    To be honest, I struggled to find any "big ticket" item anyway.

    December 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  13. David Johnson

    The Christian Right puppets, the Republicans, believe the poor are poor, because they don't understand the work ethic. It's all about personal responsibility...I believe Jesus talked about this...? The rich have good Christmases, because god has blessed them. To believe the rich should give anything to the poor is the unforgivable sin. Jesus talked about this numerous times. The rich will enter Heaven with all they can carry. Smilin' Jesus will hold the golden gates open wide for them.

    If the children of the poor want Christmas goodies, they should work! They have small hands. They can reach into places, grownups can't reach. They can clean the school bathrooms. The rich kids can wave to them, as they leave. The poor kids will learn the work ethic, that their failure parents never mastered. And it will leave no doubt in their minds who is superior, as they clean the rich kid's doodie from the toilet bowls. I bet this won't have much effect on the dropout rate. What do you want to bet the minorities comprise most of the doodie detail?

    Using children, paid much less than unionized adult janitors, would also save lots of of money! The adult janitors who get laid off, probably have children who can join the rest of the kids in the doodie patrol. Ahhh! The American Dream.

    This story told by Newt Gingrich shows why we need unions. The rich, the owners of the companies, would pay starvation wages if there were no collective bargaining. The Republicans claim to be followers of Christ, but if you watch, their god is the almighty dollar.

    The Evangelicals ...The Tea Party... do not heed the words of Christ. They like the words of Paul better than their savior. Maybe Jesus was just making a "funny" when He talked about the obligations of the rich, how we should treat the poor, and even honoring our mothers and fathers – the elderly.

    Where are the real followers of Christ? Is god dead? Some have spoken out, but not nearly enough.

    The Christian Right are fascists.

    Cheers!

    December 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • armyofone

      take the republican party back from the fascists by voting RON PAUL.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Jacob

      If the "Christian Right" are fascists then the "Income Redistributing Left" are communists. This can go both ways and being so blind to other oppinions certainly doesn't improve where we stand as a nation. I grew up poor (not all that long ago actually as I just turned 30.) There were a lot of times that, as a child, I remember my folks not being able to make rent and our family being tossed into the street where we in fact lived occassionally. My mother found clothes for us in thrift shops and dumpsters, and we walked ditches as a family collecting cans to turn in for money. Yet, they never went on government assistance one time. You may not think it is important to teach these lessons to children, but I tell you that you are completely wrong. I have 7 cousins who are younger than myself, and 4 of them are now in prison for between 5 and 50 years. You see, they did not learn a work ethic or stay in school or have a strong role model.

      Before you bash those who suggest that success requires perhaps a little more work than some may be accustomed too, maybe you should research some facts. Only single digit percentages of those who are now "rich" inherited money. Over 90% of them started in the same economic class as everyone else, and yes, the majority worked far far far harder than typical people do. Research what the top complaint from companies is about hiring people today who are under 25 and you will see that lack of work ethic is well at the top.

      So, your perspective that children who live in families where responsibility and sacrifice are not taught are not at a disadvantage is flawed. I'm not saying that cutting all government subsidy is the answer, because that certainly won't solve the problem. I'm saying that the answer lies somewhere in the middle. You are certainly a left leaning person, and I am definately a right leaning individual because I have seen that unending "free money" leads to many people staying in the gutter. Instead of blocking yourself inside a room of opinions and unmoving political ideology why not work towards a middle ground? Solutions will only be found with compromise.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Jacob

      Socialists perhaps. Not communists.

      Your parents not accepting public assistance is not honorable. It was stupid. If they accepted assistance, gave you a stable home and food in the fridge, I think they could have still instilled good morals in you.

      I am fortunate. I am not poor, nor have I ever been. But if bad times had fallen upon me, I would not have been too proud to accept help for my daughter's sake. Better a warm house, than a nasty ditch.

      There are criminals. Your family members are serving time for crimes committed. I don't think picking up cans in a ditch kept you from being cell mates. Check it out. Lots of rich "workers" commit "white collar" crimes. Most of these crimes hurt far more people than someone who steals a loaf of bread. Or a car. Or a wallet. I guess being rich doesn't instill morals. Having tons of money doesn't mean you are favored by god, or are a better person than someone who picks up trash for a living.

      No one wants the rich to give up everything...well, maybe Jesus. But most just want a fair progressive tax.

      The poor should work. But not work at just menial jobs. They should be educated / trained to do jobs of substance. Their kids should not be forced to clean the toilets. If the poor clean the toilets, the rich kids should be right there with their Johnny Mops. But, we know that won't happen. Little Princess Betty might get a cootie.

      The Republicans serve 2 masters: The rich and the Christian Right (Evangelicals). The Christian Right does not practice or even whisper the words of Jesus on the rich, treatment of the poor, or care of the elderly. They have adopted Paul as their Messiah and base their ideas on the First Ep_istle of Paul to the Thessalonians.

      Cheers!

      December 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  14. RW

    The writer has a good writing style. She could work some minor changes to it and that could help her out career wise. As to the substance of her writing, it has some obvious gaps of consideration that I think many have already commented on. I had a similar experience in my life in 1991. My former wife, who I am eternally grateful to no longer be married to, took it upon herself to use what few family resources we had; cash and credit cards, to indulge herself in the form of alcohol, drugs and so forth which I am sure you can fill in the gaps on. For that reason, to be short and to the point about it, I had to tell the children of the family a few days before Christmas in 1991 that we would not be having presents that year. It was very hard for me to do that. But I had no where else to go. No one from outside or inside of the family, and neither did any friends of my family do anything to mitigate that particular Christmas. Nevertheless, the experience revealed what my former wife was all about as a person, daughter, wife, mother, etcetera. Try as I might to keep the marriage together and working while my former wife was in therapy for her problems, it ultimately did not matter. Her 1991 conduct revealed her true self that she had been hiding from many people for many years. Getting away from her was a HUGE blessing. The writer here has a lot going for herself with what seems to be a loving husband and children near at Christmas. Focus on what you have and go forward from there. Her story as told today may be just that.

    December 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Kevin

      I am glad you were able to get away from your wife and are happy now. There are spouses of both genders who are a genuine threat to one's financial security. My have both male and female friends who have gone through a situation very similiar to your's. While for some people marriage can be a great thing, it's not for everyone and singleness can be a great thing too. I enjoy being single myself for the same reason as you but also like you, don't have anything against those who are married. To each his (or her) own. I'm happy for you that you can get your finances back in order. Happy holidays.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @RW

      You should have had the children clean the snow off the walkways and other odd jobs. Children are valuable. I have my 13 year old sewing "Dora Dolls" together, for 12 hours a day. She is really learning the work ethic!

      And you yourself have resources. You knew Christmas was coming. You should have saved a little, here and there.

      You blame your ex-wife. No! You need to take personal responsibility! Did you ever explain to her, that her poor habits were detrimental to the family? Did you consider putting her out on the street?

      Cheers!

      December 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  15. S. Stout

    Everyone of these sob stories is a family with kids. Don't have kids if you can't afford them.

    December 18, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • bluey_qld

      sometimes when you have your children, times are good and then down the track they change. Yet another stupid comment!

      December 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • HewhoKnows

      But, your mom did. Double standard.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • rwbj

      I hope, for the sake of humanity, that you don't have kids. I have four. When we had them I was making great money. Now it is gone. What do I do, give them back.

      Go to the clue store and get a clue!

      December 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Kevin

      There is no way to be sure that one will have enough money for children, unless of course, one does not have enough to begin with. Children are very expensive, and while worth it to some, are not for everyone. I don't want children not because I don't like kids (because I love kids and look forward to being an uncle), but because I don't have either the financial resources or the energy. I'm not complaining, it's just a fact. However, as you know, nothing wrong with wanting kids either and times may be going well at one point when one has kids, but then one accident or job loss can cause one's finanical security to break.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  16. Sarah

    This is nothing more than whining! Boo hoo, we once had money and spent it like crazy on crap that doesn't matter, now we don't and are miserable! Stop making Christmas all about money and expense, it's your fault you built that expectation in your children. When I was very little my parents were very successful and could have easily showered us with expensive gifts, but they always maintained that Christmas is about family, not presents. We got practical gifts. By the time I was 8, finances had taken a turn and we were shopping for Christmas presents at the dollar store. My mom gave us each $4 and we could pick out 1 present for each person. Because they had never made Christmas about expensive presents before it didn't seem as depressing as it does not looking back on how much we all struggled. At the end of the day, I'm better off for it, I learned to appreciate nice things even more. I never expect them, but really cherish when someone gives me something that I know cost them a pretty penny. Far too many people are living to excess... and yes, Mrs. Ekhoff, you are selfish... and it's a very un-Godly trait.

    December 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • bluey_qld

      Yeah, I can tell you have great manners too! Very Godly of you to trash someone publicly. Very classy.

      December 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Sarah

      Bluey, I guess it’s a good thing I don’t believe in religion then, huh?! Unlike the author, and ordained elder in her church, I really don't care what "god" thinks of me and my action, as he's nothing more an a figment of someone's imagination... like Santa. I might point out though, that your telling me I have bad manners for critiquing another all the whilst critiquing me is quite the double standard!

      December 18, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Gaines

      You utterly twist the truth to you own mean-spirited ends, Sarah. If you bothered to read the article and the facts that were in it, you would understand that this was not a family that was spending excessively. If you bothered to google "The Showstopper" gift she mentioned from last year, you would know that that gift retails new for about $20 on Amazon. They weren't spoiling their kids rotten. And, to the poster above who said "don't have kids if you can't afford them"-can't you comprehend either? It was obvious they COULD afford them when they had them. Then, mom and dad suffered misfortunes, probably beyond their control and now find themselves poor. They are supposed to be crystal ball readers, too?

      December 18, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • rwbj

      I appreciate your opinion. I am now doing the same with my kids as I have been unemployed for quite some time. You had me right up to the last line about "un-Godly" traits. That brought it into clear focus. Having a job has nothing to do with any god or religion, nor does money. You confuse the two too easily which clouds your view.

      It's not about "boo-hoo". It's about reality. I live it everyday as a long term unemployed person with 4 kids and wife just getting over a battle with cancer. God has nothing to do with it. It is what it is. People in the real world have to deal with it. Apparently you've made up your mind that we are all doing something wrong or, even worse, "un-godly"

      You have a great Christmas.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • just me2012

      I can't help but wonder how God feels about the Judgement you're casting on this woman??????

      December 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Shaun

      you no Sarah I have to say that was pretty harsh, I AGREE WITH YOU, WHOLEHEARTEDLY. We, Including myself must realize the true MEANING of Christmas, I went into so much debt this Christmas season trying to please every1 needs, but what joy did I get from that, "a thank you here" a "thank you" there. and I said I will NEVER go all-out for Christmas again, (when I state go all out, I mean get into hundreds of dollars of debt and work 60 hours per week.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • alabamacarol

      As someone who has known Tangela for almost 20 years, I can assure you I've never known this woman to spend excessively on anything. I first knew her as a single mother raising a smart, capable and independent daughter while trying to make ends meet and further her education. What she is going through now has nothing to do with having spent her money unwisely or given her children expensive gifts. She is just like many Americans in this horrible economic downturn. I can assure you she is raising her kids to be just like her. They will care about and try to help those less fortunate than themselves no matter how unfortunate they may feel at the time. You don't have to believe or disbelieve in God to feel compassion for other human beings.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • bluey_qld

      Sarah, if you don't believe in God, how do you know what an unGodly trait is? I do believe in God, but He has nothing to do with a lot of the issues we all face. Yet you must tell us that you think there is no God etc. Big deal, your loss. There is no crime in wanting to buy your kids a gift for Christmas. As for me being hypocritical, I don't feel that way. You have judged this woman on an article she wrote, that you obviously didn't read very well. I made a comment based on your unsolicited response to her article. I'm not judging you:)...it's bloody obvious you have bad manners.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • paintpaintpaint

      And you, Sarah, are judgmental and a smart*ss. Sorry for your poor childhood. Don't you want better for your kids? These people do not need YOU to look down on them. Look inward and deal with your own issues.

      December 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  17. Santa Came To America This Season

    This article is based on a family that was living a champagne life on a beer budget, in debt like most Americans, probably lost their dream home and settled into the parent's inheritance. now unemployed, struggling to maintain the champagne goal they feel cheated and they should, I will bet those kids she talks about deserve far more on the CELEBRATION OF JESUS"S BIRTH. Its called a traditional value. Something we have lost in many aspect of the American life. our politicians see this and are scrabbling for every dime they can get to insure that their families stay on the Yachts they cruise around in the World. you don't hear anything about them losing anything, most if not all the congressmen's children did not serve in this last war or any for that matter. They are the most conniving people on earth. When the US does run out of props to sustain the needy and all hell beaks loose, you can find them in a different part of the world watching ans laughing at America. Get thee Republicans out of our society and the TEA PARTY

    December 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  18. Melissa P

    I have been in a very similar situation, for the 2nd year in a row. My mistake was expecting a father to help provide for his son, instead of going out to buy his new Jaguar and remodel his guest house. My children will not receive gifts this year, and are accepting of that. fact. I have looked for work, but no one is hiring a single mom of 4. This years gift for my family is the fact that I kept the electricity on for one more month and a roof over their head. This year we are thankful that we have a warm home to match the warmth in our hearts for those that are not as fortunate as us. Despite my financial worries, I still found the money to donate food for the less fortunate. I also donated our gently used clothing to a shelter, so that other children could be warm for the winter. We are a together as a family and are happy that we have our health.

    Saying what I did will certainly open up the board to the insults of those with cold hearts. All I can say is BRING IT ON. Because I know that, despite being poor, I am so much better off than the ugliness that prevails in the minds of some of you who have nothing better to do than bash a mother for trying to express her sorrow at not being able to give her kids what she once could. Many of you have shown amazing kindness to this woman. The others should get on their knees and pray that they never feel her pain. I came from a long line of military men and poverty is the one thing these men and their families share, as a thanks from the government for defending your right to be cruel in your free speech. Comments or snide remarks? Email me mlpntr1@gmail.com.

    December 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • annebeth

      I hope that things are better for you & your family soon. I have been through hard times and I just kept working hard to make it. I had some help from a friend from Jr. High, that helped me get an excellent job, with fantastic benefits. Let all your friends from your past, even Jr High, know that you are looking for work because your friends would love to help you. I hope your children's father comes to his senses and starts to support his kids. The children are priceless.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • DC

      Melissa's reply is one of the more sensible posts I've read. It exemplifies the teachings of Christ and despite her struggles, shows how truly blessed she is. A single mother of 4 making ends meet. Despite her situation, recognizes there are less fortunate people than her and gives what she can. Most likely realizes the misguided views of Mrs. Ekhoff, but does not stoop so low as to bash her article.

      We're all to blame for allowing such commercialization of religious celebrations that we feel we must buy worldly gifts for others. Honestly, the "Showstopper" for all who claim to be Christian should be the realization that our faith in Christ is what brings us closer to God. We should all pray for everyone like Mrs Ekhoff's family and be thankful if you are not in such a situation.

      Maybe this Christmas, her family can be thankful for what they do have and celebrate the true meaning of the season.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  19. Topaz

    Tangela – Merry Christmas to you and yours and the happiest of New Years! I wanted to share with you my hope for a better 2012, for me as well as you, and all of us all over the world who are living in poverty. We have to come forward, speak, post, blog and organize about it. Hell no, we are not going to just take it lying down and feeling ashamed! I'm right there with you poor hurting, angry, laughing and grateful all at the same time. I still can't get over the stupid little restaurant that didn't give ME, of all people a job cooking; I could make a fried shoe taste delicious! Even though i'm really a lawyer, and can't get a job there either! Anyway, when I came to the comments in order to tell you that I enjoyed reading your post, and that you are a good writer and to keep it up, I read some of the comments. Wow. Unbelievable that people will twist your words and attack your family life merely to get a mean point across. I'm used to it because I write about student loan reform, but to you, writing about how it hurts not to afford toys for the kids? Damn, hate to say it but perhaps its time to start ignoring the comments and editorials sections on interactive media, now that every idiot is posting!

    December 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Jimmy Bond

      Why don't you be like Tangela and post your blog and paypal account so you can make money...you can shower yourself with bling bling...

      December 18, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  20. janeamerica

    the best christmass present you can give to our filthy evil rulers.....RON PAUL 2012.

    December 18, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.