Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Frugal… The word is often spoken in a hushed and almost reverent tone. I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately. When did “frugal” become so important? When did frugal become a life goal to be obtained? When did just living a normal life, within one’s means become “frugal”?

Here’s what I suspect. I suspect that living within one’s means began to head out the door when we began to make a big deal about every single thing. Now, don’t jump to conclusions here. I LOVE events and parties and making big deals about stuff. And I’m fond of stuff. Junky stuff. Good stuff. Lots of stuff. I’m just thinking some things through here and putting my thoughts into words. Typing them on my big fancy computer. Wondering if I should replace my cell phone. Wishing I had more pairs of jeans.

While pondering frugal I’m remembering Christmas as a child. I was born in 1953, so that was a while ago. My dad, a logger usually had a good Christmas tree spotted on the way to work. I honestly don’t remember if he would bring one home to us or we would go out to cut it. Wish I did…. Anyway, the tree didn’t go up very many days before Christmas. One, because we lived in a 10’ x 50’ trailer house. Two, because the tree stand was boards so no water for that little tree. All of our decorations fit in one wooden box. Opening the Christmas Decoration Box was Christmas embodied for little kid me. We removed the same treasured ornaments every year. Sometimes the tops went missing. Mom would make a replacement hanger with a bobby pin.

Christmas had a rhythm. It was bright and shiny and intimate. It didn’t last for weeks and weeks. It was holy.

The Christmas program at church was the social highlight of my season. It was all about the wonder of God becoming one of us, heaven celebrating His grand entrance to human kind. Attempting to grasp that He indeed arrived just as one of us. We all “spoke our piece” or tried to. Christmas hymns were sung. Herman Wilkinson and other men of the congregation handed out brown paper bags filled with nuts, an orange or tangerine, a candy cane, sometimes ribbon candy. I was never excited about the oranges. Every year Mom or Dad would have to remind me that in the years gone by citrus fruit had been hard to come by and the orange in a child’s stocking was a very special treat. I still didn’t get it. I always hoped for caramel.

So, back to frugal… I’m still pondering frugal. I’m working on the importance of living within one's means, keeping a rhythm to Christmas. Keeping it bright and shiny and intimate. Most importantly keeping it holy.


  1. Love the glimpse into your childhood. Sounds so humble and yet so MAGICAL!

    My favorite childhood Christmas is one that now I have an adult perspective I realize now that my parents had very little money that year. My Mom made signs and the garage turned into Santa's workshop. My Dad made 2 Doll Houses and little table and stools that looked like a tree, My Mom painted them and put up wallpaper from old wallpaper books and sample flooring in each of the rooms. It was one of the only Christmases that I remember what I received. This Christmas my Mom is restoring that doll house with my nieces.

    I too love the holidays, celebrating, creating and all the fun that goes with it, but it gets commercialized earlier and earlier each year. I just want to treasure the magic and wonder of it. Thanks for helping keeping it in perspective for us and being the magical, lovely person you are!

  2. Wonderful, Dottie...thank you for taking me back to that sweet and holy time in our precious family. Simplicity and humility shine through your well chosen words. So nicely written.
    Love you so much, Your Big Sister

  3. Oh so loved your story of your xmas. I so can relate to it. My mom went to work picking,tieing and pruning wine grapes to earn money for our xmas. We had beautiful dolls which I have every one. Yes I do remember the brown paper sacks of orange,peanuts in shell, hard candy stuck to the peanuts. Haha..performing in school nativity scene. We lived right next door to the Methodist church in Finley wa. I had beautiful xmas's...only we did have a tree that went up day before xmas and it was table top...and it stayed up till the 7th or 5th of january. Now was a tradition..passed on down. Oh and also I didnt get the orange either..arent we bad?

  4. I, too, remember those Christmas programs with fondness and being together with all the family and praising the Lord! It seems like we have to work harder these days at keeping it shiny and bright and, most of all, holy. It's well worth the effort, though, and I wouldn't trade it for anything!