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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. DavidTenn

    The author suggests that she is faced with a terribly disappointing Christmas because her children won't wake up to a mountain of gifts and "showstoppers". I understand and have experienced having money and not having money, but when you gauge a successful Christmas experience on how much you buy can your kids, aren't your priorities a bit off? Take them down to a homeless shelter to sing carols to those who TRULY have nothing. Let them help serve a meal to someone who hasn't eaten in a few days. Perhaps a less materialistic approach would provide the kids with something that will last much longer than that huge pile of toys.

    December 18, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • aycarambaa

      The kids don't need some philosophical bull – they need some fun gifts! The bigger, the better! Most people are not that religious or philosophical. Christmas is a time to be together and have fun with the gifts. That simple.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • jake

      @aycarambaa
      Kids need both. To say it's bs to sing Christmas carols to people in a homeless shelter or help someone in need is ludicrous and self-serving. It teaches kids that giving to others is a good thing. If most aren't religious then why do they bother to celebrate the holidays?? There is nothing wrong with kids getting presents for the holidays but let's not cement the expectation that retailers have already begun the process of–commercializing the holidays in the name of "how much and what am I getting for Christmas".

      December 18, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • tembo

      Give what you can afford to give, and feel happy if you're children are not in a hospital with life threatening illnesses as some people's children are. Warm their hearts with real love, not with junk from China. Encourgae them to give of themselves, buy one gift, make a showstopper family season

      December 18, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • RC

      Oh, come on, she is not being materialistic. The story just happens to reflect how the rest of their year is going. They are just normal Americans trying to provide for their family. I pray that they find the jobs that provide a good night out on the town once in a while. And I think their kids are extremely lucky to have parents that care enough to provide that 'Showstopper!' Good Luck!

      December 18, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Tom

      Typical Republican response. I pray that some of you have to walk in these people's shoes to feel their pain. Some of you have no empathy for others. You republicans have enough religion to hate and fight wars but not enough to love. Jesus talked about giving to the poor but apparently you people missed that because of your hatred for gays and muslims and "welfare" queens.

      December 18, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Rick

      I'm a pretty die hard conservative. Pretty much libertarian. And I still thing posts like this are incredibly mean spirited and ignorant. Children expect something on christmas morning. And the showstoppers this woman mentions are not large gifts. My son actually got one of her "showstoppers" for Christmas. It wasn't what many of us would consider a huge gift.

      I don't know her situation. She may be lazy and huge liberal. But what she writes in this article can happen to anyone. And she's not asking too much for her children to have a nice Christmas. Most of you need to go rent or read A Christmas Carol. Apparently Scrooge is still alive and well in many of you.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Tara

      Amen!

      December 18, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  2. Abba-Dabba-Du

    You can thank obama for this. His anti-business, anti-free market policies will continue to destroy the economy. Just what he wants, to see the middle class suffer, just like his people had to. Pay back time.

    December 18, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • bella

      I am so glad you believe in JESUS and have faith, imagine those who don't.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • aycarambaa

      Right, Obama is an evil Grinch that controls all the aspect of the economy. He wants people to suffer!

      Get a life.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Carsonk

      Abba-Dabba-Du.......you are an absolute idiot and should be ashamed of yourself. Regardless of your political views or views on whomever is the President, this is about a woman writing about her family, not asking for anything, just talking about her experience. I don't read this as her way of asking for a handout, just talking about how she feels. For all those haters who talk about her not making things happen or not being thankful.....hmm, let's see, they moved to Oklahoma from the south, out of their comfort zone.....to try to provide opportunities. They are working in Pizza joints, cleaning houses, working clubs, etc.....I don't think this is them being lazy....but parents who are doing as they must, WORKING at any job they can to make ends meet. Yes, she is saying that she is sad that she can't give her kids those "showstoppers" for Christmas, but what parent doesn't want to give their kids nice things....or what they want? She isn't buying what she can't afford, which is very commendable.....so stop hating.

      And again for you Abba-Dabba-Du......you IDIOT, you think this is because of President Obama? Nothing has changed regarding tax law under this President.....which is why Congress is currently fighting over extensions to payroll tax breaks. Remember, the republicans don't want to roll-back Bush era tax cuts to the wealthy or business, but do want to roll-back tax cuts to the poor and middle-class (saying that there is no proof that they stimulate the economy). So, tax breaks to businesses stimulate the economy......getting shoppers (who have no money) to buy more goods? You're an idio.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • LH

      The policies of your 1% republican friends not only create poverty in this country, but starve 40,000 children around the world every day. Sleep well on that FACT!!!!!!!!!!!

      December 18, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Brent S

      This is what comes from worshipping Reagan, one of the worst presidents we have ever had.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Riley

      It's very easy to come on here and blame Pres. Obama and his administration's macroeconomic theories, or Congress. Don't complain about something larger than the individual until you study and understand it. Actually, after that, don't complain, but contribute any idea that would fix the issue (and no, saying "get a Republican in the WH doesn't count"). Write to your Congressional Representative, write to the president, vote when the time comes (that's when "getting a Republican in the WH" will matter, if it matters to you). If you really want to complain, go to the corner of a wall and do it, because complaining is just a waste of time, doesn't fix the issue, and no one really wants to be around someone like that.

      December 18, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Pete Larson

      I'm not sure I understand how economic policy has changed very much since Bush, nor how things would be much different under McCain. I realize Obama is an easy target, but his economic policies have not diverted in any appreciable way from past presidents.

      What would you have liked to have seen done differently? I am sincerely curious.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Ashamed

      I was going to say you cannot possibly be this stupid, but I suppose the answer is obvious.

      December 18, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • jane

      Yeah, let's bring back ole George W. He'll fix it good. Obama will get a second term and I'm thankful for that.

      December 20, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  3. Ingrid

    To the editor... very thorough article!!! However, don't think that displaying the type of heading in your home page.. is helping or inspiring anyone... " being poor on christmas"... It triggered something in me that drove me to send my feedback... here it is... "being poor or rich in christmas"... It's not the foundation of the season.. on the contrary, monetary or material motives should be the last thing on anyone's mind, but knowing that the the richness of the spirit is found in the heart and mind.. and you can share that abundantly with your loved ones and those around you... Children and family's will be blessed by remembering the treasure that His birth brought to our world.. May those that are having difficulties, be comforted in knowing that He is the provider and will replenish each home with gifts beyond this world.. And to those of us that can make a material difference in their lives.. Let's do something about it!! Knocking at someone's door with little gifts, cookies, toys.. etc as symbols, may encourage them to see the selfless love of Christ in this season!!.. I'm hurting for those that will see the heading and instead of bringing joy to their hearts.. does not lift their spirits..

    December 18, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • aycarambaa

      The kids don't need some philosophical bull – they need some fun gifts! The bigger, the better! Most people are not that religious. Christmas is a time to be together and have fun with the gifts. That simple.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • mdmann

      aycarambaa, please shut up. No child NEEDS anything you are suggesting. Not a single one.

      December 19, 2011 at 2:41 am |
  4. nolapearl

    Hopefully, they will find good jobs soon.

    December 18, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • realitycheck

      Maybe with difficult times we can get back to the true meaning of Christmas, leaving over-commercialization in the past. I doubt it though..........

      December 18, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  5. Donna

    Umm looks like they had quite a few years of good times – what happened to people saving when times were good? Where are the 'showstoppers" now – at the bottom of a toy box or way back under the bed?..........My husband makes less than 50k, I work from home .......we save.......there will be no show stoppers here.......never have been..........any monetary gifts the children receive will be put into their accounts. I just dont understand why people think they have to spend hundreds/thousands of dollars of gifts for their children? It's not necessary. I have a friend that cries to me on the phone that she is thinking about forclosure and yet just went out and bought a $110 DOLL stroller for her little girl for christmas, this is just 1 of the gifts..........ummmm I don't get it. I have a hard time feeling sorry for some people that decided to choose to live beyond their means instead of save and are now crying "poor me".

    December 18, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Chris

      I agree for the most part. There are people who are totally screwed and are scraping by...there are many others who can't afford to pay their car or house payment but they make sure they pay the cable! I used to sell the subprime loans and I got out because of what I was seeing. I would go into a filthy house that was dirty and nasty and the owners would be 3 months behind, but their car outside was 40k.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • aycarambaa

      Chris – I call it the black janitor syndrome (most of the money he makes go to the payments on his Cadillac). Appearances matter!

      December 18, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Tangela

      Hi, Donna. I didn't live beyond my means then, just like I don't now. What you don't know is: There was illness with one of my children. Serious illness. My mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died on September 10...helped with paying for her living and subsequent death. I could have said a lot more, but I didn't. I'm not ungrateful or living beyond my means. My 5 year old almost died in April, spent four long days in an ICU at a children's hospital. I appreciate your comments, but I'm not looking for a handout. I will work for what I get. Merry Christmas.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • TangelaToo

      Is Tangela the real Tangela, or is it me? Do you think the real Tangela would reveal such personal info?

      December 18, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Leanne

      TangelaToo, You have the incite of a doorknob! Did you read this article or any of her other blogs??? Of course she would reveal personal aspects of her life,that is the whole of her of her writing....doorknob.

      December 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • annebeth

      The people on this post are just crazy. She never said that the SHOWSTOPPER was expensive. The toy from last that was her showstopper was Chuck the Talking Dump Truck, which retails today on Amazon for $26.80. People are acting as if the family spent big money on gifts but if the big gift was less than $30 bucks, then I don't see how she could be considered excessive.

      December 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Tara

      Donna, sadly, you (and I) are in the very small minority of Americans. Most have the mentality, why save when I can spend now. Credit cards make it even worse. I can't afford it but if I put it on my credit card and make the minimum monthly payment (at who knows how high of an interest rate!) then I can buy it now. Then we wonder why so many people are so ill-equipped when the fall on hard times?

      December 18, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  6. BP

    Typical American way. Perhaps if they had been more responsible and dialed back on the Showstoppers over the years they would be in a better position now? Stop living in the moment and save!

    December 18, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Beadles

      BP – well said.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Northeast

      Things like medical emergencies and family illnesses can sap your savings. I don't know her personally, but another post (supposedly by Tangela) alluded to this.

      December 18, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • RC

      Lighten up dude, you don't know all the aspects of their life. It is a good story and I wish them well. You too.

      December 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Ashamed

      Last year's showstopper was less than $20. You really think this is excessive? I think you're full of crap.

      December 18, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  7. Chris Anderson

    For Tangela: I just want to say that God has a plan for each and every one of us. You just have to want to believe this and just take a hold of what God wants for us all, and KNOW that things will get better. I will keep your family in my prayers this holiday season.

    December 18, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  8. Lynn

    I have struggled for over a year now just to survive in this miserable economy. On Dec 2 the final blow was delivered when I was fired from job I was barely make ends meet on. I have no children so I cannot recieve social services beyond food stamps and non-profits have no means of helping. All I ant for Christmas is a job so I can make my car payment and rent. In thirty days I am facing eviction and loss of my car which I need for work search and employment. Telling me to have faith is like telling me to shut-up.

    December 18, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Renee

      I completely agree. I just lost my job as soon as I graduated college...and so far that piece of paper has brought me nothing but trouble since I'm over qualified for retail, but under qualified for things that would take my degree. I doing extra classes, have an internship to gain experience, but I hate the thought of not having a job. Particularly because I'm living of my fiance's pay check and any side jobs I can do for past professors...

      December 18, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  9. Like It Is

    Such is life under Obamaunism – hope and change. Only not the kind you expected.

    December 18, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Irv

      Wow, I didn't realize that it was during Obama's administration that this country started losing 600,000-800,000 jobs a month. As I recall that was under W. At least jobs are being added back into the economy now - slowly, but at least they are being added, not subtracted.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • RON

      yes, and life for the poor was so good under Bush-era!

      December 18, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • EZG427

      Yup, everything was perfect under W. Geez, you do luv to tell your self the lies. And as the the Dems that are whining about how long it's taking President Obama to "fix" the mess W and his monkies created: wake up. W had 8 years and wasted not a minute in setting things up for our demise. 4 years, or even 8, is not long enough to reverse the tide but they are making progress so give him another 4, then give Hillary 8, and maybe the ding dong Repubs will learn and we can get back to what were are supposed to be.
      To the whiner about the writer and her being selfish: she ackknowledged that openly in her writing and that was not the point. The real point was about a higher principal, and I know that you know that so stop spewing the nonsense the try and support the RightWing nutz because that's where you were really going with that...although veiled in your attempt. Her honest self-assessment annoys you because you cant, make that wont, do it yourself. TTFN

      December 18, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • EJW

      You apparently have a short memory. Obama didn't cause the mess the US is in. It wasn't under the Obama administration that oil prices went skyhigh and people starting losing their homes and jobs. Nor was it under Obama's administration that the US went into two separate wars: in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Interesting that we were bombing Iraq when most of the 911 attackers were Saudi Arabians!)

      December 18, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  10. Marianna Martz

    What odd and judgmental replies to this blog. The emotion and empathy that this entry evokes is wonderful – I love her descriptiveness – being born in AL with a frying pan in one hand and lard in the other – using her degrees as microfiber cloths to clean. Are most readers illiterate, cold, unfeeling, subhuman meanies, or has the level of anonimity given by the use of the internet allowed them to become so hardhearted? I really hope if they were face to face with this woman, her family and her situation they might be more human and understanding. Peace to all.

    December 18, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • awayfromhere

      That would be "anonymity." Thankfully, I'm not illiterate.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • enodot

      Marianna, these so-called God fearing people who are ridiculing the author are simple minded because they think the poor are just users and abusers.
      When I was sick, unable to work, lost my job of 24 years, I was in the same situation. It is heart breaking not being able to provide for your family. So when I hear these uninformed fools here blaming her for her situation and turning it into a slam against her and Obama it makes me wonder the level of intelligence some have on here. CLUELESS!
      I love when I see the racist comments come out too, when people start saying Obamas people and he is going to make everyone pay, such a sad racist comment.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Joyce Bowman

      I agree. It was a well written article describing deeply personal feelings. I hope she finds a job using her writing skills.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Tara

      @endot, I'm neither simple-minded nor do I think all of the poor are users and abusers (although, let's admit, there is a small majority that are). I just have no sympathy for people who have such whacked priorities, poor or not. This woman gauges her parental success on how big of a 'showstopper' gift she can get her kids for Christmas!?!?! Gifts that are probably forgotten about and not played with again 6 months later. Maybe if they had been saving money instead of going overboard every Christmas, they wouldn't be in such a bad situation. I was let go from my job (reduction in force) back in 2001. I didn't find full-time employment for almost two years. However, at the time I was let go, I had no credit card debt, because I only charge what I can AFFORD and pay off my bill every mnonth, and I had a good amount of money in saving to live on. The average American household is something like $10K in credit card debt. No one saves money and no thinks they will ever lose their job. That mentality can be devestating when they do lose their job but, hey, that was the choice they made.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • bhibsen

      It's the anonymity. People will say anything if they don't have to actually defend it or deal with any possible consequences of their statements. This woman is the 99%. She is someone who did what you are told you are supposed to do in order to ensure your security, worked hard, went to college, graduated, got married, the whole conservative playbook, yet here she and her family are, reeling and underemployed because of a health crisis that never should have bankrupted them in the first place. She is not praying for the Showstopper, she is praying for the security to care well for her children. Read through the lines people!

      December 22, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  11. DM

    Thanks for your post – it is honest and it expresses what many of us who have fallen from middle class into poverty the last years have felt. Still hopeful, making the best of what we have, but also in a little shock to find ourselves in this situation. Especially when we thought we were doing everything "right". It is sad that people have such a lack of empathy that they would comment on your 'assumed' unwise choice of a degree. Obviously they have been fortunate, but rather than make them more grateful they choose to look down on others and judge them. My best to your family and well wishes for a more prosperous 2012. I don't think it's at all selfish hoping for a little relief from the anxiety and stress you must be feeling 🙂

    December 18, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  12. mm

    X-mas should be about people, not presents. But kids don't know that, so of course parents want to make x-mas special for kids with gifts. There is no point is saying otherwise. So I'm sorry to read that x-mas will not be what you expected. I hope you can get back on your feet. Also, kill the 1 percenters. Anarchy is here.

    December 18, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Ctra

      Its CHRISTmas. You say it should be about "people" but you forget the most important one

      December 18, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Abba-Dabba-Du

      Christmas is about Jesus moron, not people. And nice to see you endorse murder. Ignorant fools like you should just stay in mommy's basement, k?

      December 18, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • SciGuy

      And what is your next step after you've killed off the bunch who pay a large chunk of the tax dollars you feed on, and who provide many of the jobs you have had?

      December 18, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Joe from Indy

      Yeah, the imaginary one that the Church took over a pagan holiday for. . . The holiday season is about people, not imaginary friends. Get your priorities straight people.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • SciGuy

      Joe, you mean that imaginary guy who was put to death on a cross and whose tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers but came up empty? The same guy who was seen by over 500 people after he rose from the dead, and who so convinced them of his real ness that they turned from those who would cower before maidens into those who were burned in the flames? Is that the imaginary guy you mean, Joe? Hmmm?

      December 18, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  13. lovethedifferentcommentsystemsCNN

    my kids will have tons of showstoppers, life is great....dont move to alabama

    December 18, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Ctra

      Well that's wonderful for your children. Unfortunately many americans are not in this boat with you but instead agree with the article. And its not just alabama feeling it – plenty of other states as well.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • awayfromhere

      They moved to Oklahoma.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  14. AJaj

    I have a boot sock hanging above my fireplace...

    December 18, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  15. Mandy

    I don't think wanting to do well for your children is selfish at all. <3 I have a worthless college degree too, and I graduated on scholarship with minimal debt, still barely scraping by. I'll pray for this family and their children <3

    December 18, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  16. Marielouise

    We've got no showstopper gifts this year either, but it's ok. We're finding happiness in spending time together and showing love for others in non-materialistic ways. It's not all about the gifts.

    December 18, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  17. Cameron

    "the crown jewel of success as parents is the shrieks and wanton joy that come when our children open presents on Christmas morning"? Way to teach your kids shallow & materialistic values. Our grandparents were thrilled if they got a fresh piece of fruit on Christmas morning.

    December 18, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • mm

      you are a fruit

      December 18, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • tray

      no its not so odd. i grew up in a very humble home. at the end of the year my mom would sell whatever was worth something to her, work 3 jobs (instead of the usual 2) just to be sure Christmas would be the most amazingly magical time. as i got older i realized what the holiday did to her. it was her only way to make up for the lack all year round. it is a little different from what she's saying but still the same feeling of giving and making the magic of Christmas happen. i have a similar holiday wish...God (whichever one you believe in) please help all of those who are struggling find peace. and those of us who have, please find someone in need and give a bit of help. everyday not just during the holiday season.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Jun

      Agreed.

      How about crown jewel of their parenting be the children displaying selflessness and kindness to others, coming home with a great report card after struggling with the work for months, or being involved in a community group? I'm sympathetic to the situation; however, it's an odd definition of success that their children experience "wanton joy"?

      December 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • snookie

      I don't even remember what I got for Christmas as a kid. My husband doesn't remember either

      December 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  18. True Meaning

    If you taught your children the true meaning of this special holiday they would not be disappointed if they didn't get a "show-stopper" present. GO TO CHURCH! The fact that an article like this gets published is just another example of godlessness in the country.

    December 18, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • nolapearl

      The showstopper present was a dump truck -not a new car. She's a minister so your dumb comment about godlessness doesn't make you look smart and your entire comment doesn't make you look very Christian. So I guess you would know all about godlessness.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Jhawkfanz

      Perhaps you have forgotten the true meaning – I struggle to see how wanting to be able to buy a gift for your children is Godlessness. Open your heart & see it through the eyes of Jesus!

      December 18, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • SciGuy

      Jhawk, you will pardon us for not assuming you have a special entry into the eyes of Jesus.

      December 18, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • True Meaning

      If she's preaching the book then that's even more of a reason that she shouldn't be concerned with what toy is or isn't under the tree.

      December 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  19. tensor

    We've never gorged on presents at Christmas. It not only sends the wrong message ... it is the wrong message for a time that ought be about giving love, not money. When the kids were young, we taught them to pitch in and make paper garlands for the tree and hand made cards for close relatives (i.e., real keepsakes). Before I was married, the 1st Christmas after my mom's death, I worked in a soup kitchen and delivered meals to the sick/elderly. It had a profound impact on how I see family and holidays = grateful.

    December 18, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  20. Irv

    Tangela: You are clearly quite an articulate person. Have you considered writing a book about your journey into poverty? It's a story that applies to far too many Americans these days, but you may not realize that it is also a story that is almost incomprehensible for many others. If a book is too much, perhaps a weekly column for some publication. You're probably not looking to become the voice of the "new poor," but maybe that's what God would have you do. Pray about it.

    December 18, 2011 at 10:54 am |
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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.