By Beverly Gadson-Birch
After attending two old schoolers funerals in two days, I woke up in rewind mode. After arriving home from the funeral service of one of the last surviving moms from my old neighborhood and checking my phone messages, another old school mom passed away. I don’t know if the deaths are contributing to my melancholy, but I am just not in my usual festive mood. Normally, I operate in fast forward mode. It’s not often I reflect on my journey because I am always running full speed ahead. Christmas is a couple of days away and I haven’t wrapped a single present. While Christmas is about the birth of Christ and a season of glad tidings, it is also a season of hopelessness for others. Hopelessness leads to homelessness; Homelessness leads to helplessness; helplessness leads to desperation; and, desperation leads to crimes.
Holidays can be a time of sadness. There is never enough money for toys and food for the family. The poor will always be among us. If you are feeling overwhelmed with the spirit of giving and have nothing to give, give love. Christmas is the birth of Christ. The Wise Men brought gifts to the Savior. Is this where gift giving originated?
Merchants exploit Christmas with sales after sales hoping to rake in millions of dollars at the expense of those that can least afford it. If you are going to give gifts, establish a budget and stick to it! When Christmas is over, reality sets in. Depression sets in when you can’t pay essential bills–house and car notes, insurance, property taxes, and utility bills. After the holidays are over, the bills roll in faster than the paychecks. It’s alright to make sacrifices for your children but don’t go overboard. Children are wiser than you think. They know Santa is just a fairy tale and the real Santa is you. At five years old, fairy tales begin to fade and realities of who Santa really is begins to set in. f your child goes beyond seven thinking Santa really lands on the rooftop with his sleigh and slides down the chimney, y’all better get that kid to a psychiatrist, and quick!!
All too often we buy children “junk”. Children don’t need “fake” eyelashes. Yep, y’all heard what I said. They don’t need a bunch of expensive toys to play with on Christmas morning and soon tired and cast them aside. If you are going to give video games, give educational videos. Think about your child’s interest and promote that interest. Don’t give gifts just to receive a gift. The best gift is a gift given from the heart. Love is a gift from the heart. A book is a gift from the heart. A framed photo is a gift from the heart.
So, why am I thinking of yesteryear’s Christmas? Why am I thinking of ole schoolers? Christmas was Christmas then. Old school parents made a way out of no way. Now, one by one they are gone. And, as I grow older and I become them, I realize the enormous sacrifices they made. Old schoolers borrowed from predatory lenders so their children could have something for Christmas. My dad was one of those old school parents. He shopped thrift stores for his ‘chern clothes. As a child, there was a certain amount of shame wearing clothes from thrift stores. Now, even the rich and famous shop at thrift stores. As I grew older, shame turned into gratitude. I never went to school or church looking like I was poor. I was always cleaned and neat and so were my siblings—all ten. I learned my most valuable lessons from old schoolers. I learned that clothes don’t make the woman; the woman makes the clothes. I learned that morals are more important than looks. I learned that looks soon fade away, but principles remain forever.
While I will miss house hopping on Christmas Eve and listening to “Silent Night” and “Please Come Home for Christmas,” I will forever cherish the memories of old school parents. I will also miss homemade eggnog laced with a little toddy.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a safe and memorable holiday season.Don’t forget the real reason for the season!