Saturday, December 22, 2012

Broken Candy


Imagine yourself a young mother with eight children and it is coming up on Christmas. You are struggling to survive the changes that have been handed to you. Your husband has decided he would rather live with and raise the family down the street than to honor you and be with his own children. Imagine yourself at a time when we did not have the safety nets we have now. No food stamps, no means of income. This was the reality that faced my grandmother. This was the Christmas my mother faced as a little girl when her father abandoned them.

This is not however a story of anger but a story of simple Christmas blessings. My grandmother did not let this shock shake her faith. On Christmas she gathered up her children to head to church. After the service, while walking home, my grandmother instructed her children to wait outside a shop where she could see someone working in the back. While the children waited, she approached the man working in a candy store and explained to him that the children out front were hers and that she had no money to buy them anything for Christmas this year. Would the man be willing to let my grandmother have any broken hard candy he was going to throw away as a small treat she could give her children for Christmas. The man agreed and for that one year all my mother and her siblings received was a bag of broken candy for the eight of them to share.

My mother never told me this story until I was an adult. She said this was not a sad story but one of hope. What my grandmother overcame seems insurmountable to me. Often there was not enough food and the Salvation Army provided many a meal for them until they could get on their feet. My mom always felt that this experience was character building. I think she was smarter than I knew. My parents lived a very simple life with no frills but I felt rich as a child. I never knew hunger and always was cared for by two loving parents. A stable home was all my mother ever desired. She was very content in her simple life and I can remember thinking even as a young teen that I wanted a life like my moms. She always seemed content with what we had. Never a need to change what was still usable. Never a rushed feeling in our home chasing busy
schedules.

So as we race around trying to make everything perfect for the holidays, I remind myself of this story and that it does not take much to make a loving cozy Christmas. A warm home, some delicious food and thankfully we have always been able to provide more than broken Christmas candy. I love to make things special but I know more and more how at some point I just say that is good enough.

I wanted to share this story with you as a tribute to my mom but also to ask that if you pass the red kettle, think of dropping a little money in for the Salvation Army. They are a truly wonderful, selfless organization. 98% of all donations go to help those in need. I have always raised my kids giving donations to them every time we pass a kettle and making sure they know the story of how they helped my mother when she was young and how now we can give so they can help someone else.

29 comments:

Kim@Snug Harbor said...

Awesome post!

Precious said...

This brought a tear and a smile to my eye. It made me remember how my mom raised my sister and I by herself( with the help of my grandparents) from the time I was three. All those Christmases that she went without so that we would have some clothes and one toy for the holiday.She took the bus to work for years because she could not afford a car and to feed us at the same time. She went to work in the middle of winter with holes in her shoes. My mom was a remarkable woman.

Both you and I were incredibly blessed.

Tree Hugger - Suzan said...

Such a beautiful story about your Mom!! And how wonderful that you are reminded about her work every Christmas when you go shopping, especially at the grocery stores.

Barbara F. said...

I seem to always have tears in my eyes lately, not only for sadness but something happy. But this sweet post brought tears to my eyes. The things we women have to endure sometimes is beyond my comprehension. Thanks for sharing. xo

Lottie said...

What a wonderful story! I will indeed this of it when I pass the kettle!

Melanie said...

Oh my goodness, Elaine...I love this story! Most of us have no idea what it means to truly have little. Or nothing. I've always been a supporter of The Salvation Army ~ they do such good works for people in need.

Amy Jo said...

Elaine,
This story is beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. This is a wonderful Christmas reminder of what is important...and that it is not things.

Merry Christmas,
Amy Jo

Diana Schmied said...

What a beautiful and inspiring story. Thank you for sharing it.

I have a friend who buys no Christmas presents for anyone (other than her non-adult children and grandchild), but instead makes a substantial donation to the Salvation Army on behalf of the adult relatives and friends that she would otherwise buy gifts for.

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...

Precious story. I hope you and your family have a very Blessed and Merry Christmas. Hugs, Marty

Echoes From the Hill said...

What a great tribute to your grandmother and your mother! They sound like they were remarkable women.
They remind me of my own mother and grandmother. Times sure have changed, and not necessarily for the better.
nancyr

Kris said...

What a beautiful story Elaine!!!
xo Kris

Cranberry Morning said...

What a wonderful example your grandmother and mother were for you. And what a precious memory. It is a story I won't soon forget. Thank you for sharing it with us.

pbrenner said...

A terrific seasonal reminder, that we should keep in our hearts all year. Thank you for sharing it, and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

Patty

Linda W. said...

Wow, what a wonderful story! Yes, it truly puts things into perspective.

Ruby and Arthur said...

What a sweet post that helps us all remember our priorities. Have a blessed Christmas, Jean

Sandy said...

Elaine,
This is a wonderful Christmas present here!!!! Thank you for sharing this time in your Mom's life....it truly helps me to center ( once again) on what is important....faith and family! Merry Christmas! :) Sandy

NanaDiana said...

Elaine- That is a wonderful, touching story. My Mom grew up with not much of anything either and was lucky to get one little thing for Christmas. We did not have big Christmases either. I always help the Salvation Army out because I know how much they do- xo Diana

Corn in my Coffee-Pot said...

Wow! Love this post... it made me cry.
Hope is a wonderful thing.
Pat

Julie said...

Elaine - thank you for this post. I think in these tight economic times, it's harder to part with your money. Putting a "face" on the donation makes me eager to donate. This year in Ontario it has been harder for the Salvation Army to get donations after a big scandal was unearthed in Toronto. A theft ring was operating headed by the local director - stealing donations and reselling toys, etc. The police found a huge warehouse of stolen toys and made sure to get their work done quickly enough to release them back to the Salvation Army in time for Christmas. One bad apple...

Cozy Little House said...

What a beautiful story and tribute to your mom, Elaine.
Brenda

Urmelche said...

That make me think back to my grandparents and parents era. Such a great story and Oh, so true. Thank you so much for sharing

Debra said...

A beautiful and inspiring story ! and yep, I always put money in the kettle! :)
merry christmas! :)

Bonnie said...

Elaine, Your's is a beautiful Christmas story. One we all need to hear to be reminded of what is important in life. May you have a beautiful Christmas. Bonnie

Teresa said...

I think everyone should read this story. I think it puts things into prespective. I also came from a large family. But we never felt ;ike we were lacking anything. Always had food and clothing. I think we grew up the better for it. My "richer" friends had a harder time becoming responsible adults. Not all but a lot of them.
Thank you again for reminding us of the good old days. (and I do mean good) :)

Maureen Wyatt said...

This story made me cry, too. In the great scheme of things, they may have gone through that hard Christmas so that many years later all of us are reminded to give as much as we can to those in need. Your grandma's good and strong nature shows up in you!

Patty@Lemon Lane Cottage said...

Just the perfect post for this time of year. I will look at those red kettles in a totally new light forever more. Merry Christmas my friend. Your momma done raised you good! I know she would be so very proud of you.

Carol Pirozek said...

What an amazing gramma you had...times were tough in those days especialy if you were alone raising children...but what values she instilled in you all...by never giving up and teaching you to get by with what you have...todays world is too commercialized..I wish it wasn't but it is...there were 9 of us kids in our family and I never remember getting even one present...but we survived...and to this day I will never pass a red kettle with out putting a little something in it...wewere happy just to have something to eat..who cared about presents?? we never...Merry Christmas! Carol

Terri said...

I always donate to the kettles. Salvation Army has provided meals and sleeping quarters for one of my headstrong children, for her family on occasion. I am deeply grateful that it is there!

Ginger Zuck said...

Elaine, such a touching story. I can not pass a red kettle with out digging in my purse to find something. I'm so bad about not having cash, but I try to find something. This reminds me so much of a some of my family. Hugs sweetie.

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