Tag Archives: Expectations

Christmas Then, It Was Different

Growing up in 1950s and 1960s America -it was a different world. My sons don’t really believe that. Like many other young people, they think that things have always been like they are now – for instance, crime and deviancy and government control, selfishness and a lack of self control, victimology,etc.

Life was palpably different. It was simpler. It was harder. It was better. (Right here is where one always has to insert the politically correct caveat about the things which actually have improved. That has become tiresome and I’ll resist it this time.)

A common complaint/observation about modern life is the commercialism, greed and joylessness at Christmas, which I believe is pretty accurate.

How has it changed? Well, for starters, it was a joyous season.

Born in the mid-1950s and raised in Mingo, a working class neighborhood, my friends and I looked forward to Christmas for lots of reasons, presents being only one of the many elements. Among them were the art projects and the yearly religious Christmas program at our public school, a program at church, shared secrets about gifts, helping my mother stamp the Christmas cards, receiving cards in the mail and hearing from friends and relatives, the family gathering to open presents on Christmas Eve (we had to wait until the sun was down and it seemed like it took forever). The big dinner at noon on Christmas day and the drive around Tulsa looking at lights on Christmas night. Daddy and Mama enjoyed it all as much as the children did.

One of my fondest memories is of the time I made marshmallow snowmen with toothpicks. That was a really simple thing but I remember how much fun it was.

Christmas wish lists were only in the cartoons. I never wrote one and if my friends did, they never told me about it. It never even occured to me.

None of the children in my neighborhood demanded particular gifts. Certainly there were things we wanted and told our parents about, but our world wasn’t centered around what we didn’t have or didn’t get. Christmas and birthdays were about the only times during the year when we got new toys but even then it was with restraint. I never had my own hula hoop or twirling baton or baby buggy or dollhouse, but some of my friends did and they shared nicely. It seems that I was the only one with Tinker Toys and I shared. My friend, Joy, had her mother’s original Shirley Temple doll and wicker doll buggy; we were allowed to play with it together.

My mother made all the females new Christmas dresses every year – everything else came from the store or catalog but even so it wasn’t as commercial as it is now. Retailers are only partly to blame for what has happened; we have become a very greedy, demanding society. There are gift registries for brides and babies and probably every other occasion; goodness, someone wouldn’t want a gift that they haven’t chosen for themselves!

We were not princesses and we certainly weren’t treated as such.

As for the decorating, we always had a cut tree and the big lights and a star on top of the tree. Each year my parent sent out lots of cards. Mama decorated with the ones we received and we enjoyed looking at them on display during December. She had a few other decorations sitting around, but it wasn’t the overwhelming obsession with more and more. I enjoy beautifully decorated houses at Christmas, but honestly, it is a little tiring just to even look at them.

This year Christmas is simpler at our house. Fewer decorations and I’m enjoying that. The perfect gift is not my goal; I am considering what each member of my family would enjoy and I’m also complying with what we can afford.

It is absolutely no coincidence that Christmas has lost a lot of joy in modern times. Leftist leaders have stripped as much meaning out of everything as they can.

If we can’t acknowledge the birth of our Saviour, how can we celebrate? Silly, manufactured “holidays” like kwanzaa and winter solstice are empty and hollow pathetic attempts at counterfeit substitutions for Jesus.

What is there to celebrate? God’s gift of His Son to a lost and dying world.


Filed under 1950s, 1960's, America, Childhood pastimes, Christmas, Current Events, Faith, Family, Mingo, Oklahoma, Tulsa

Through It All

by Andrae Crouch

I’ve had many tears and sorrows,
I’ve had questions for tomorrow.
I’ve had times when I didn’t know right from wrong.
But in every situation
God gave blessed consolation,
That my trials only come to make me strong.

I’ve been a lot of places
And I’ve seen so many faces,
But there’ve been times I’ve felt so all alone.
But in that lonely hour
In that precious, lonely hour,
Jesus let me know I was His own.

Through it all,
Through it all
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.
Through it all,
Through it all
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

So I thank God for the mountains,
And I thank Him for the valleys.
I thank Him for the storms He’s brought me through.
Cause if I never had a problem,
I wouldn’t know that He could solve them,
I wouldn’t know what faith in His Word could do.

Through it all,
Through it all
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus,
I’ve learned to trust in God.
Through it all,
Through it all
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.
Yes, I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.
I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.

A really nice version by Selah on youtube. Also on their album Hiding Place.

This morning I read Brenda’s Sunday Afternoon Tea post on Coffee, Tea, Books and Me concerning the trials of this life and that as Christians, we know that this world is not our home and we look toward the time when we will be with Jesus in heaven. She writes about how life doesn’t turn out like we plan or think it will, either with income or health.

Honestly, I don’t think I ever had the expectations she had about comfortable income and life plans. My life didn’t begin with material comfort, and I never expected it to. Of course, there have been times of more prosperity than others. When my dad and brother had their own businesses, we were quite comfortable. And Joe has a good job but as it was with my dad’s factory work, we have had a lot of experience with lay-offs. During the past 27 years, Joe has been laid off 6 times. Going without regular income for a year or two (that has happened twice) depletes resources and takes a good long while to recover from.

God has always provided and I’m thankful for what he’s given us. While Joe was in college and we were expecting our second son, my dad gave us the down payment for the mobile home we still live in. Over the years we would occasionally think about buying a house, but never could decide on one. Almost without fail, Joe would be laid off within a few months and we would be so glad we didn’t take that leap, because we would’ve lost a house when the income dropped.

For many years we wanted to move out onto rural property, but acreage with houses is way beyond our means. Then in 2001, we found our land and moved the trailer out here to our own place. Joe removed not only the wheels but the axles, too. He named it Kizzie (from Alex Haley’s Roots: a woman named her daughter Kizzie because “she was gonna stay put”). No more moving this house on wheels. Bought new in 1980, we have lived in it 6 different places.

I have plans for remodeling, adding a screened-in dining porch on the front, big wide porch on the front for rocking chairs and summer mornings, a deck on the back for sitting in the winter sun. Most of that will have to wait for Joe’s retirement because we just don’t have the time for big projects.

I’d like some improvements, but I’m grateful for what I have. The world doesn’t understand. If it did, it wouldn’t take such pleasure in remarks about trailer trash. It’s the politically acceptable prejudice. Those who wouldn’t dream of discriminating racially, seem almost proud to despise mobile homes. I remember what James Carville said about Paula Jones, something to the effect that you never know what you’ll get if you drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park. Or people who don’t want you on the PTA board at your son’s school, because you “wouldn’t fit in”. Or a woman who turns away from talking to you when she asks where you live and you tell her. Because the world judges on the outward appearance.

There was a really wonderful passage in Phillip Gulley’s novel Just Shy of Harmony on page 128:

Outside the trailer, winter was coming on. A skiff of snow blew across the fields. A car drove past on the highway. The driver looked at the sagging, tired trailer, saw the lights go off, and felt the cold push of a northern wind nudge his car toward the shoulder.

“Wouldn’t you hate living there?” the driver said to his wife.

“I can’t imagine anything worse.”

But back in the trailer, on that night of love reborn, there was no other place Wayne and Sally would rather have been than in their little trailer, with all the world at bay.

Beautifully written, I’ve never seen anything else like it in print.

Health and family are where my expectations were not realised. I expected to live as I always had until I died. About 25 years ago, I knew there was something wrong with the way I occasionally felt (especially when tired), but my doctor couldn’t find anything. Six years ago I got the diagnosis of fibromyalgia when going in for problems with plain old arthritis. These are not crippling problems; most days are okay if I don’t forget to take the ibuprofen, but then there are the days when I’m down all day, maybe several days. Makes it very difficult to commit to plans. Volunteering had been a part of my life since I was a child, but now I’m very limited.

But I’m grateful, because it’s not what I call serious. It’s not life threatening, just limiting. I’m still mobile and still travel, although I prefer something other than flying. I have fallen in love with trains.

Family is where I have had the biggest blows to expectations. We’ve really had our share of anguish, which I will not elaborate on. Family is where we have invested our money because our loved ones are more important to us than lovely houses, wonderful houses or material gain.

Family is very valuable to me. Never did I think my mother would get Alzheimer’s and live in a nursing home. I always wanted several children but had three miscarriages.

We have 2 handsome, brilliant sons whom we love very, very much. Our older son has blessed us with 2 wonderful grandsons. But we now have 2 almost ex-daughters-in-law. And even when they weren’t ones that I would’ve chosen for my sons, it has really hurt to lose them. It feels like amputation.

So when I think about the vicissitudes of life, I think about this song, which I love.

The trials only come to make me strong.

O Lord! Have I learned anything? Have they made me strong?

Oh, I hope I haven’t wasted my sorrows.


Filed under Aging, Alzheimer's, Faith, Family, Vicissitudes of Life