I never got Christmas presents in my childhood. Did you?

(108 Posts)
ssaw2012 Tue 04-Dec-12 13:19:51

I have just read "Kids' presents", which makes me feel quite guilty as we cannot afford expensive presents. We have two children and if we spend £30.00 in total, that would be perfect. They do get toys throughout the year so they do not grow without toys and I hope they can understand it. One problem is that they often ask for useless toys. They tell us how much they want something and then after a few days the toy is forgotten.
I grew up without hardly any toys. We had a Christmas tree but never presents. I do remember getting a present for my birthday perhaps once or twice. There were three of us and our parents did not earn much. Never theless, I did not ask for presents. I was very understanding at that time. It is now that I think that they could have actually prepared something, even a tiny one.

elizaregina Tue 04-Dec-12 13:27:38

It was probably all a bit different back then ssaw - some fams just arnt present orientated - i certainly got some but nothing like goes round today..having said that i didnt feel any loss on xmas at all. i never asked for things either!!!
Nowadays you can get so many things for younger children for nothing on freecyle or at car boots - or charity - ebay etc....

it depends on how old the children are.

i am personally discouraging my DD from asking for what she wants for a long time yet - she is 5. she has got a mix of stuff from the above this year....

last years absolute smash hit present that is still going strong a year on - was - about 40 lion king figurines from freecyle - ie free.

ReindeerBollocks Tue 04-Dec-12 13:32:03

I think it's really sad that you didn't get christmas presents as a child.

I did get Christmas presents and although we asked for things we knew that we weren't always going to get everything on it.

My children are the same. As long as you manage your children's expectations then surely that stops them developing an overly materialist view of toys.

redskyatnight Tue 04-Dec-12 13:32:20

I think someone made the point on the presents thread that you can't really compare yourself to others. We are spending more than £30 on our DC (though way less than lots on that thread) but we literally only buy the DC toys on their birthdays and at Christmas - they don't get other things during the year.

We did get presents at Christmas but it was normally only 1 big present (think board game big, not bike/playstation big!) and a few little bits in a stocking. Once we stopped believing in FC it was more likely to be something practical like a jumper.

HECTheHallsWithRowsAndFolly Tue 04-Dec-12 13:33:52

Yeah. I used to get loads.

Often, they were sold in January though.

The mystery of the disappearing toys... hmm

My sister once came home from school to find something of hers on the coffee table. Waiting to go.

When I was older, we were given money.

Which I would hang on to because I knew that they'd need it back.

My sister - the wise one! grin would leg it as soon as the shops opened and spend the lot on crap! Muggins here would save it for them.

They've always been like that. Totally shit with money and utterly irresponsible. (buying fags instead of loo roll and leaving us to wipe our arses on pages from books and sometimes newspaper)

The one that hurt though, was the makeup compact my aunt gave me. My mum snapped it in half and took the mirror half.

When I complained about this, my dad got cross and said "your mum never has anything"

Not exactly true.

She had the fags and chocolate while I got paper cuts on my arse grin

My children are knee deep in toys and games.

And my cupboard generally has in excess of 40 loo rolls at any given time grin

DeWe Tue 04-Dec-12 13:36:06

Dh always complains at the number of presents the dc get. But well over half are things they'd need anyway. They usually get new toothbrushes, underwear, school clothes, stationary for school, things they need for music practice, and some notelets for thank you letters. I've even been known to wrap socks separately!

They like opening presents, so I think I might as well make the boring stuff interesting. They've never complained. They don't (usually) get expensive presents, just a fair number, and quite a few of the presents will be second hand too.

So I think it's possible to give a few presents without spending excess money. On actual presents rather than things they need it probably is around £30-£40 max. The dc don't often ask for particular things which helps.(advantage of no TV-no advertising!)

When I was in primary school there was a tradition that on your birthday you could stand up in assembly and say what you'd got shock and everyone sang "happy birthday".
Somehow the head managed to make the child who'd got a pencil and a rubber from her siblings sound just as lucky as the one standing next to her her claimed (probably untruthfully) that his uncle had rocked up and given £200, and his parents had given a TV.

For the record that was an actual pair. I didn't register it at all (about school year 4) but my dm was there and mentioned it a few years ago. I remember the little girl's family well (I think there were 7 of them) but I don't remember them talking about presents, so I don't think it registered how little they got. I do remember one or two of the excess claims though.

EldritchCleavage Tue 04-Dec-12 13:38:25

We had very little, as we lived in a developing country where there was almost nothing to buy and we didn't have much money to buy it with. Still, my parents managed: a book each (massive treat, we had no TV), sweets, then usually a new dress my mother had made. I got socks one year (posh ones, imported from Europe!) and was so excited.

We saved pocket money to buy each other and our parents small presents from the local market like a comb, or made necklaces out of shells, a picture or something.

Hec, my sister is like you. Her reaction to all the shortages growing up is to have a massive cupboard in her house with huge stacks of everything and a vast secret stash of Minstrels!

NatashaBee Tue 04-Dec-12 13:40:23

We were absolutely dirt poor - I remember my dad walking round with holes in his shoes which he fixed with cardboard, and sometimes dinner was bread and butter, we always had something at birthdays and Christmas though. Thinking back, the presents were probably second hand and inexpensive, but when you're a child, it's just exciting to have a present waiting for you in the morning.

dashoflime Tue 04-Dec-12 13:43:33

I also think its sad you didn't get presents sad

A word of caution about "managing expectations":

I never asked for things as a child.
I had totally internalised our financial situation.
I knew really well that it was n't reasonable to ask for things.
I'm sure lots of people thought how well behaved and contented and non materialist I was.

Fast forward 30 years: I can't buy myself clothes, I can't get a haircut, I can't plan holidays, I even sometimes have difficulty buying things for DS (I force myself) even though I can afford to do so.

Whenever I see something I like, I feel like its not acceptable to want it and I feel horrible anxiety until I leave the shop.

DualFuel Tue 04-Dec-12 13:43:40

Sometimes we did, sometimes we didn't depending on whether there was any money. I enjoy giving mine presents but they get a mix of new and secondhand and we are going to stick to that, I learnt to really value whatever we had tegardless of whether it was new, a charity shop find or my cousins hand me downs.

valiumredhead Tue 04-Dec-12 13:45:53

We always had presents for Christmas ALWAYS. Looking back very little was actually spent on them but my mum must have spent months making dolls clothes/Barbie beds etc. She was amazing and I never realised there wasn't much money around.

Theicingontop Tue 04-Dec-12 13:46:35

No, not after I turned 5 or so, when felt tip pens and pound shop colouring books weren't as appreciated. Nor for birthday which is just before Christmas. My OH was shocked to learn the birthday cake he bought me the first year of our dating was my first ever.

My parents were unemployed and raised five of us on benefits, with a bingo and cigarette habit to look after. We always had a tree and a ceiling full of those ugly foil garlands though wink

Having a child has made me excited about Christmas for the first time in my life, I think it's lovely grin
And as long as your children are excited that's all that matters, too much emphasis goes into what they're receiving and not enough on the atmosphere of the whole holiday. They won't remember their presents when they grow up, but they'll remember the excitement and not being able to go to sleep on Christmas eve etc. That's what will stay with them.

EldritchCleavage Tue 04-Dec-12 13:47:32

My mother made dolls clothes too! That was the best, we loved those.

valiumredhead Tue 04-Dec-12 13:48:50

Just remembered we had hand sewn nighties too -and she smocked the cuffs and chest. Must tell her tomorrow how fab they were smile

Proudnscaryvirginmary Tue 04-Dec-12 13:49:08

This thread's quite sad (and shock at Hec! Are you really grin about it or is that with a great deal of hindsight/therapy?!!)

But it's actually irrelevant about the presents/non presents.

We got loads of presents (not rich but comfortable) and, to be fair, my parents made Christmas a nice time but this doesn't mean I look back at my childhood and smile dreamily. Because for the most part it was unhappy, confusing and dominated by selfish parents who made terrible decisions!

Ephiny Tue 04-Dec-12 13:52:59

Yes I did, though I do remember Christmas presents were just for us kids, adults in the family didn't exchange or expect presents from each other.

It was often second-hand stuff though, and I remember if grandparents or other relatives visited and brought new shop-bought stuff, it would often be put to one side and taken back to the shop for the money once they'd gone home!

I don't think kids need expensive presents though. When they're little it's surely more about the anticipation and the fun of opening presents etc than the actual material thing? Or maybe not these days!

HECTheHallsWithRowsAndFolly Tue 04-Dec-12 13:56:35

You have to laugh! grin

If you can't find a way to laugh, it has the potential to make you bitter.

I remember eating the contents of the christmas hamper (that my mum paid for through the year and which was delivered just before christmas) by the light from the gas rings because we'd no food in the house and no electric (the Christmas Miracle was we'd got money on the gas meter grin )

I feel sorry for them because they're 60 now and still in the same mess. They've never learned.

I do resent their selfishness when it comes to my kids though. I haven't been able to find a way to laugh that off.

I don't think it matters whether you give your kids one present or one hundred.

Just let the buggers keep it! wink

Goldenbear Tue 04-Dec-12 13:57:34

Yes we did. Some years my brother and I got a lot - we didn't ask for it. Other years we got a lot less as it totally depended upon how well my Dad's business was doing. However, i think we were always pretty lucky when it came to gifts, when my parents got divorced we pretty much got double as my Dad felt a lot of guilt about it all. He's completely unmaterialistic so he probably would not believe this was the case- looking back.

WilsonFrickett Tue 04-Dec-12 14:01:28

Some years I got loads, some years I got nothing. It all depended on the races the week before Christmas. Ah, the joys of compulsive gambling!

I don't think I overspend on DS, it probably helps that he's not overly materialistic but hopefully that's because I try to keep things on an even keel generally for him - no feast or famine round our house [hgrin]

elizaregina Tue 04-Dec-12 14:02:29

Personally i think the day is about the warmth generated and the fun - a few crap presents are made much easier to bear if there is " merriement" mt DH family are really good at presents they are really " hot" on it.

gifts are always being exchanged here there and everywhere etc...

BUT the atmos opening them - in a special no go zone room only used once a year is fraught with tension and anxiety - and you are very aware you are in the MIL's " special room" you are sat on her " cream sofas" you are not allowed anything coloured to drink in there!

you sit - awkardly - and uncomfortably and open a nice gift which is lovely but you dont enjoiy yourself - and there is no chit chat. its horrid!

id much rather open - as I did once - my dads offering to me of.......................................

two" left" foot slippers - granny style from m and s - one size 5 , one size 8 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and laugh up roarisoulsy about it - than sit in that prison on a house- with no laughter - just up tight posing - and poncing not even able to have a glass of red wine!

nickelbabylyinginamanger Tue 04-Dec-12 14:02:53

sad at some of your stories.

I think it is important, like icing says, that there is that excitement about the season and the day more than the presents.
It's exciting to see the lights and it's exciting to put the tree up and put things under it - who cares if they're expensive or shop bought or second hand or free or homemade.

I was lucky to grow up in a household that was clever enough with money to make sure we always had exactly what we needed and sometimes what we wanted, too.
My dad worked really hard to make sure his mortgage was paid off in 12 years (evenings and weekends) instead of 25, and when the opportunity to buy a bigger house further up the street came up, he didn't take it because he was on strike at the time and didn't want to risk the mortgage defaulting.
sometimes my dad's sensibleness about money was annoying, but it meant that in tough times we always had enough. never extravagant, but never without.

didn't stop the stupid arguments on birthdays and christmas ruining any joy of any presents, though. but that's another story.

Proudnscaryvirginmary Tue 04-Dec-12 14:03:21

Good God. Well glad you can laugh about it though - you're right, it's the best way. And at least you know exactly how not to bring up your own kids!

FrostyTheSnowSlut Tue 04-Dec-12 14:14:38

We were always skint, but I used to get Christmas presents.

Christmas, I used to get a shoebox with sweets and again presents that my mum bought throughout the year, things like a chocolate bar, some pencils, it was all really cheap stuff from Dagenham/Walthamstow market and maybe a bit of money from my grandparents. Then always a dress to wear on the day and at new year. The dress was invariably nicked with tags or fell off the back of a lorry down the docks.

It was ok where we lived everyone was poor, although I know some of my friends got more than me. I think I was a bit disappointed by it all but I new my parents did what they could and if I really wanted something my Dad would steal find a way to get it for me. As long as they know you're doing what you can I think most DC understand.

I also had my toys sold when I didn't want them to be but hey money was tight .

Theicingontop Tue 04-Dec-12 14:21:22

lol HEC, I'm the same with milk!!! My parents never bought fresh milk because 'we'd use too much on our cereal or drink it, and it was far too expensive for drinking' so they bought the powder stuff for their tea knowing we'd leave it alone unless we were desperate for some rice krispies.

I don't think, since moving out at the ripe old age of 17, that I have ever run out of milk!!

No not after I was around 7. No birthday either. Never bothered me til I was a teen and my friends were all getting expensive gifts and I got nothing. As a child I never cared. I was happy enough to make believe and wasn't fussed about toys which I guess is due to the fact I didn't really have any. My dcs have plenty. Nothing expensive mind but they don't go without.

DragonMamma Tue 04-Dec-12 14:25:18

Wow that's really really sad.

I had lots of presents when I was growing up, mainly for Christmas as we aren't 'big' on birthday's in our families but even then I remembered getting around £100 in cards from various family members.

Christmas was always a magical time in our house, at almost 30 it's still my favourite time of the year and I throw myself in to it, head first.

Dragon I had my first proper Xmas that I remember after we got married 5 years ago nd i make a huge fuss. I think it should be magical for the dcs and the same with birthdays.

GrrrArghZzzzYaayforall8nights Tue 04-Dec-12 15:04:15

It's birthdays for me. I know I had a couple of parties when I was very small, but I didn't get anything for it/allowed to have friends over after I turned 8 until my friends surprised me with one when I was 17 at a restaurant. The only exception was my 13th or 14th when my mother gleefully got me a pack of cupcakes to share with everyone and my very ill, housebound grandmother had managed to get me a book from a show we watched together (Hyacinth's Etiquette Book - she loved old British shows) and a Judaic candle (I started discussing my interest and plans to convert when I was 12, she gave it to me to show me that she loved me regardless). I still have the candle, my mother took the book at some point. My brother always got winter baseball camp (born 26/12) and my younger sister always got a major gifts and parties that I would be dragged to (she was the miracle baby).

That and their horrendous money management skills (both badly debt in a desire to keep up appearances, was once home alone when electric company came to turn the electric off), I feel that it is bad for me to want and can't really buy stuff for myself. Can buy quite a bit for the kids though. Birthdays are massive (I fill the living room floor with balloons) and I've bought tons for this Channukah blush.

jammybean Tue 04-Dec-12 16:01:59

We never had any presents in our house. Not birthdays or for Christmas, mum was incredibly tight savvy with money, regularly had to wear clothes that were too small in my teens.

As a result I too always have a fully stocked cupboard/fridge & freezer. I can be very impulsive when buying myself clothes thank god for eBay. My brother is exactly the same if not worse.

StarOfLightMcKings3 Tue 04-Dec-12 16:06:42

Our kids get various 'presents' that are actually things they need, so they get things to unwrap.

So pjs, a jumper, a toothbrush, a lunch bag, a water bottle, a face-cloth interspersed with a tub of homemade play dough, a tube of smarties, some felt-pens, a book or two, paper, a pritt stick each etc etc.

WilsonFrickett Tue 04-Dec-12 16:12:12

Grr and others I have a small savings account that I put £20 a month or so in, then if I do want to 'treat' myself I use that money. I find that makes me feel in control of the spend but also 'allows' me to treat myself. Both DH and I have struggled hard to get in a better place with money, but it's hard when you have poor role models. My DM was telling me a 'magical' Christmas story last night and it really wasn't how I remembered it at all sad

Badvocsanta Tue 04-Dec-12 16:17:00

You see I can't do that.
I know it's sensible. I know it is.
But if you need it it isn't a gift IMo. It's something you need. I like Xmas to be about silly things you will love/use/adore that you would never buy yourself.
Hec...your post rings many many bells for me sad
And yeah, my house is full of loo roll and kitchen roll. I actually get properly anxious when we are getting low sad
A lot of my kids stuff this year is small silly things like a water colour paint tin, some Thomas engines from e bay, bath bombs etc.
They will love it smile
If I got my ds1 clothes he would literally pass out in disgust smile
Ds2 would quite like a princess dressing up set but dh is refusing point blank smile

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 04-Dec-12 16:21:56

We didn't do presents either. I can relate with Hec et al about getting anxious when things run out - it's drinks with me, mainly, but I do have 50 toiletrolls in the cupboard, and I buy two more whenever we get one out.

I don't make up for presents now though. I hate getting them. I don't know how to open them, or how to react, or what to ask for. OHs family don't understand, and won't not buy me anything, and OH is desperate for me to enjoy it and can't understand why I don't. He even did me a stocking last year, for the first time ever.

I'd much rather buy for everyone else and not get anything. I'm used to not getting things, it's familiar to me - it's my comfort zone, and I'd rather stay in it.

5dcsandallthelittlesantahats Tue 04-Dec-12 16:31:48

I used to get loads of presents. I do remember one year though when my mum had been really ill in hospital (she died the next year) and they were really struggling for money. My dad went out and sold loads of his things (including his prized video camera) so that we could have a nice christmas together - perhaps he knew it would be the last one thinking back. I wasnt a child then I was 16 so there was no need for this in reality. I still appreciate it now even after the crappy way my dad has treated me since then because I think it showed he cared enough to think of us.
I never get people who say they cant afford things for the children and yet have luxuries like alcohol or expensive things for themselves tbh!.

StarOfLightMcKings3 Tue 04-Dec-12 16:37:09

I suppose Bad that they do need these things but they don't NEED them. They can carry on with their shabby pjs and old toothbrushes.

They also don't REALLY NEED Matey bubble-bath but they both like it.

ssaw2012 Tue 04-Dec-12 16:40:01

Thank you everyone! I feel better after reading your posts. No, really, and thank you so much for that.thanks
I think my parents just did not think it was important to give presents. Even my DH is not good at it even though he did get presents etc.
I forgot to say that my parents used to buy sweets to share with classmates. We did not have problems with sweets, e.g. toffies. I wish I also had my own toothbrush. Toffies + no toothbrush = very expensive dental care grin
Badvocsanta, thanks for mentioning about the bath bombs. My DSs love bath bombs from Lush which we can only afford as a special treat.

Lavenderhoney Tue 04-Dec-12 16:55:44

I got presents which ranged from new pjs to a pony. I think it was to make up for the dreadful poverty my parents grew up in. However, I remember the gradual excessive boozing more, and the undercurrent of forced hilarity more. For one night, and one night only....

I listen and read of people's happy family lives and wonder how my life might have been different. I had friends at school who had dads who stayed in at night with their wives, which I could not understand or feel comfortable with.

It's not being ungrateful, its something I cant quite understand myself. I feel disloyal to state that, but it's true.

TheQueensChristmasMessage Tue 04-Dec-12 16:57:00

sad that so many weren't given presents as children.

My mum left my brother and I with our (brilliant) dad when we were very young. He was heartbroken and only in his late twenties but my memories of Christmases are happy ones with lots of presents. I don't know how he did it because I know he was on the bones of his arse.

I know that Christmas isn't about 'stuff' but children don't need much to make them feel special. I don't know how some of the parents who spent money on fags/bingo etc at the expense of a small gift for their child on Christmas morning live with themselves.

pingu2209 Tue 04-Dec-12 17:08:23

All your messages make me feel really spoiled, but I really didn't think I was. I can't imagine not having a present on my birthday or Christmas. I can't imagine not having any loo roll.

I can't help but feel what you are describing is a deprived childhood. Not of love or that you were living in filfth or grime etc. Just deprived due to lack of money.

It makes me sad.

I must be so sheltered.

Badvocsanta Tue 04-Dec-12 17:09:16

So they still make matey!!?

DualFuel Tue 04-Dec-12 17:11:11

My friends at school would have been shocked if they knew we didn't have presents. We were in a big 4 bed detached house in a nice area but when my dad got cancer they couldn't manage the mortgage, they didn't qualify for any benefits and he was treated in a hospital an hours drive away so any spare money went on petrol. After years of reduced income and hospital commutes he died and we were even worse off. The house wouln't sell with the bad economic times so we were stuck. It was shitty and means the few years I had with my dad before he died were overshadowed by constant money worries.

DualFuel Tue 04-Dec-12 17:13:03

I've got a bottle of matey upstairs!

Badvocsanta Tue 04-Dec-12 17:18:29

Ssaw...smile my two boys love bath bombs. They are expensive though so they know they only get them as treats. I have got ds1 a Santa one and ds2 a purple and gold one.
Ds2 likes a bit of bling smile
He has also got a gruffalo toothbrush and flannel smile
Ds1 loves DVDs and books so he is easy to please really.
Got a lot of little surprises for them this year...not much but things I know they will love and use/play with.
Pingu...my childhood was certainly economically deprived. And it's only recently that I have come to terms with that. I won't bore you with my tales of woe but lack of money for essentials eg: sanitary protection, toothbrushes, toothpaste, decent underwear, decent shoes etc makes life very hard when you are a teenager and want desperately to fit in with your friends sad

Badvocsanta Tue 04-Dec-12 17:19:00

Is it really silly that I want to go out immediately and buy babycham and matey!?

mumeeee Tue 04-Dec-12 17:21:19

Yes we always got Christmas presents when we were children. My parents were not well of but always managed a stocking and a main present. I fel sad that you didn't have Christmas presents OP.

SantyClaws Tue 04-Dec-12 17:24:20

as a small child most of our Chrismas presents were made by Mum. As was all the food and decorations, hardly much at all was bought ready made. My dollies got lots of clothes, and i remember she made us ragdolls one year, they were fab

i still remember the sheer delight of opening my Tiny Tears dolly one year - that was a real treat....the next year mum knitted her a new dress grin

cantspel Tue 04-Dec-12 17:45:42

We were poor when i was a child. My parents divorced when there was still a stigma attached to divorce and my dad was never very good at paying maintenance. We still had christmas presents but it was always the cheap version so no tiny tears but a market doll, no barbie but a cheap plastic doll that didn't have moveable arms and a stocking with market pants and cheap chocolate. My mum would be up to the early hours stuffing envelopes, doing sewing or any other type of homework she could get so we had something

NaiceDude Tue 04-Dec-12 18:04:29

This might be a bit silly, but I got a bath bomb free at Lush a while back and it's been sitting on the side of the bath ever since. I'm a bubble girl wink so won't use it.

The ink on the Lush bag has run so it'd need re-wrapping in tissue paper or something but please anyone PM me if you want it.

Just hope it'd survive Royal Mail! I'll pack it carefully.

crappypatty Tue 04-Dec-12 18:48:38

We didn't have much growing up but we always had a stack of presents on Christmas morning.

lovebunny Tue 04-Dec-12 18:52:40

yes, i had presents.

TheReturnOfBridezilla Tue 04-Dec-12 19:10:31

I make fun of DH's hoarding tendencies wrt toilet roll and ketchup and other random household stuff and his family were very poor when he was growing up. Never made the connection before. sad

I always do him a stocking now because they never had them when they were young.

I always had presents, great ones before my parents split up and after that my mum couldn't afford much and my dad never got it right but hey!

I was brought up mainly by my father who was never very good at remembering to buy new clothes when the old ones were grown out of / worn through or toiletries like sanitary towels and deodorant etc and I was too (shy? Scared? I don't know!) to ask him for anything.

As a result my dc have the best of everything. I would go without myself if necessary to avoid them being embarrassed by their clothes etc.

flaggybannel Tue 04-Dec-12 19:30:04

This thread has me thinking of my wonderful mum who had a very difficult deprived childhood and yet made every christmas special for myself and my brother- not excessively with expensive gifts and 'stuff' but just by doin what most families would probably consider the 'basics' of christmas- especially as she done it all on her own. I didnt realise until i was older how alien it must of been to her to treat us well and be a loving supportive parent as she was never shown this consideration herself. She truly is a wonderful woman, this thread has reminded me of that- i thank you all. I am making a mental note to spend more time with her and tell her how great she is this xmas.

pingu2209 Tue 04-Dec-12 19:37:46

I'm still finding this thread really shocking. I feel extremely saddened that there are children that literally get no presents at Christmas and don't think Father Christmas is real as they don't get a stocking. I thought we were poor because we didn't have cakes and biscuits and squash etc in the house. Food was never 'free flowing' and we had to ask if we wanted anything from the kitchen other than water. Every fluid oz of milk was accounted for and my mum would make the cereal in the mornings because she had so little of everything that she needed control over the kitchen food/budget. However, we always had presents at Christmas. Not loads, but something.

lovestotravel Tue 04-Dec-12 19:58:25

We got small presents, nothing expensive mind - Kirkby grips, pencils, new knickers grin and either a doll or when we were older a record. My mum had literally not a penny spare and I know it took a lot for her to get us the presents she did. Christmas wasn't really a happy time though, not for me anyway, I hope I managed to make it fun for my little sisters though. My mum was always deeply depressed and had been most of her adult life, it got worse when my dad left and she just withdrew completely. She would try but she just couldn't engage. My mum worked in a Chinese restaurant and worked every Christmas day ( double time) so she would be gone from mid morning till about 10pm - she always brought home a big bag of Chinese food though and we would all wait up for her coming home with our 'feast'. My mum would just sit and watch us devouring the food like there was no tomorrow with a sad smile.
DH is an only child and the first Christmas present he ever recieved was from his girlfriend when he was 16. He spent every Christmas looking after his alcoholic mother who saw Christmas as an excuse to drink even more than usual.
The adult mr and mrs lovestotravel have cupboards full of food, toilet roll, soap etc etc, I can't bear to run low on things. DH insists we save a % of our salary every month - he is terrified of not having savings ( they often went without food as there was no money to buy any and he recalls hiding from the various debt collectors that came calling). We also spoil our DD in over compensation.
DH has no contact with his mum any more which is a decision he made a long time ago. My lovely mum found happiness late in life and married a lovely man who treats her like a princess - she deserves it and she is an amazing grandmother but I do feel sad that we weren't enough for her, we could have been so happy sad

Agent64 Tue 04-Dec-12 20:04:20

We didn't have much money when we were growing up. I didn't particularly notice at the time although there were things you just didn't ask for, so I guess I must have realised on some level.

We did get presents at Christmas though - usually a thrilling heap of them, though none of it would be expensive. The "big" toy would be a board game or an art set and every year there was a tin of toffees and a book.

OP - I can't splurge money on useless toys either. Small things individually wrapped will be exciting for your DCs to open. I hope you have a lovely Christmas smile

Taffeta Tue 04-Dec-12 20:08:40

Yes, we had a lot for a long time. Then hard times struck when I was a teenager and my Mum had nothing to give so gave me a bracelet of hers I'd admired. I felt dreadful and didn't want to accept it as it was hers and I wanted her to have it. She said it would give her more pleasure if I had it.

I've tried to give it back to her many times over the years but she won't take it. It makes me sad every time I look at it.

DeafLeopard Tue 04-Dec-12 20:23:41

I've read this thread with a lump in my throat and want to hug each and every child who didn't get presents at Christmas / birthdays sad

Mum and Dad were poor when we were growing up - working alternate shifts to try and make ends meet, (Mum walking 2 miles back through Leeds at midnight during the time when the Yorkshire Ripper was around for eg), but they always put us first and made sure we had something, no matter how cheap.

By contrast they are now quite comfortable and so spoil their GCs.

DH grew up in a very wealthy but dysfunctional family, where they were given lots but he and his siblings had to care for his alcoholic mother as his father worked abroad.

Alarielle Tue 04-Dec-12 20:24:07

My DH never had a christmas growing up. His DM enjoyed playing bingo to much. His favourite christmas memory was one year when he was about 7 and his older siblings (who moved out as soon as they turned 18) came down with a food hamper as they knew there would be no food in the house and money for the meter (electricity had ran out a few days before) and a few christmas presents for him.

Even now he rarely buys himself anything and its not because he's mean, I think he's just never gotten used to the idea of being able to buy himself things. But he makes sure our children never go without. He never wants them to have to worry about money the way he had to in his childhood.

FrostyTheShosheman Tue 04-Dec-12 20:35:54

I feel so sad for all who never got anything, as a single parent, in the late 70's I couldnt of imagined not buying mu Ds a christmas present.

I started buying small things in January, and paid into Park Hampers a 50p a week (which was a lot to be honest, I seem to remember CB was about 1.75 a week or there abouts then.

I was a TA, which has never paid much, and never had maintenance (pre CSA), but I guess I managed my money well.

DS never had big things, but there was always presents.

We always got something, it was sometimes only a book or a new but broken toy they repaired but never quite worked right but always something.

We are dirt poor since fleeing exh but my dd has loads.

I do think its easier now with eBay and charity shops no kid should go without.

There was a local advert the other day asking for new presents to be donated to those children who won't get a present or visit on Christmas day in Manchester Children's hospital.

Really upset me to think that not only were they spending Christmas in hospital but no present or visitor either sad

my dad hoards because he got nothing but also so when they are struggling he has something to sell.

When I was tiny he sold his rail set and all the trains and all his jewellery to fund stuff I needed.

Hes worked since age 14 and bloody hard but is now disabled and is having to once again sell stuff for my mum for Christmas sad

lovelyladuree Tue 04-Dec-12 21:22:28

We had tons of presents but it didn't make us happy at all. My mother made sure we all knew how hard she had to work to cook the fucking turkey. Never mind that my Dad was working 15 hour days to pay for everything she was buying. And she always had chocolate biscuits every day, and we were only allowed plain ones. A packet of milk chocolate digestives was the first thing I bought with my student grant. And my kids can have a fucking chocolate fucking biscuit whenever they want.

I had 2 toys when growing-up a doll and teddy. We would get money that "would go into the bank". I hated the last day of school when you brought a toy to play with in because I didnt have any (oh how I wanted Guess Who envy). I hated it when I was older and I had horrid clothes jumble sale clothes (no uniform) and was bullied.
I never bothered to ask to go on school trips as they just wouldnt pay for just to go. (they could afford 60 a day fags and a few cheeky beers at the weekend though).
Christmas was just anothe day in our house, birthdays too. I think that is why I make such a big fuss now.
Money is tight but I save up and use Ebay where I can, my DC will have loads of presents under the tree, some presents and some boring stuff they need like pj's, sponge etx. They get nothing from my parents even now.
I am the same as another poster I worry about spending money even when I had some and rarely bought things for myself sad and worry about money.

apostrophethesnowman Tue 04-Dec-12 21:29:54

Gosh I've read this thread with a lump in my throat. It's so sad to read that people got literally nothing at Christmas - or had their presents taken back and sold.

I remember as a child being disappointed that we had little compared to others and being embarrassed when people asked what I got. As I became a teenager I realised we could have been a bit better off if my parents hadn't smoked and if they weren't heavy drinkers. I think that's why I always made sure that my own children had piles of presents, as do my grandchildren.

However, I now know that I was very lucky to be given gifts every Christmas. We didn't get much in comparison to others, but we always got a few gifts. Always. This thread has made me realise that.

God bless you all and I hope, whatever you have/have not, you all have a wonderful and happy Christmas.

AmberSocks Tue 04-Dec-12 21:35:37

I think its a bit sad you didnt have any presents,like not even one,they could of made you something!We were spoilt but i feel it was for my mums benefit rather than ours,she was never nice to us,buying stuff was her way of being nice,i think i would rather her spent time with us doing stuff.

pigletpower Tue 04-Dec-12 21:36:06

Oh my fucking god.This thread has made me so depressed.I cannot fathom the reasoning behind parents who treat their kids like shit.Like the ones who have special biscuits whilst the kids have plain.Why the fuck do they do that? lovestotravel- your post really struck a chord.Why weren't you enough? Why did it take a nice man to make your mother happy? How selfish.Jesus,next time my DH moans about Christmas presents for the kids I'll show him this thread.

RabbitsMakeGOLDBaubles Tue 04-Dec-12 21:37:13

More than half of what I have bought this year has been from the second hand shops. We got a lot of toys at Christmas, but it was always one of my least favourite times of year because Dad was more drunk and there was always tension in the air. Guilt toys I think, mum wanted to have a better life than she and equated that with two parents, just didn't bargain for one of them to be a violent abusing drunk.

Badvocsanta Tue 04-Dec-12 21:37:20

Yes it is a sad thread.
My childhood ended when I was 10 pretty much. Lots of reasons. My mothers mental health problems for one.
My dh always had nice Christmases. I didn't. He doesn't really understand my need to make it nice for our children.
I never want my kids to go through what I did. It's not about gifts, toys etc...
It's about being "normal" whatever the hell that is sad

Cahoootz Tue 04-Dec-12 21:37:56

This thread is making me sad. I hope everybody has a fantastic Christmas even if they don't have much cash to spend. smile

MrsDeVere Tue 04-Dec-12 21:38:28

We got TONS of stuff at Christmas. So much stuff we didn't know what to do with it all.
A few weeks afterwards we would get our lecky cut off and the phone and my DM would announce she was 'going for a drive' and feck off for hours because of 'stress'.

On one memorable occasion she told me 'They are going to put me in prison soon!!!!' I was about 6, she had not paid her tax or something. I was terrified.

I also vividly remember coming out of the bathroom and meeting a bailiff coming through the back door. Then there were the threatening phone calls from debt collectors.

Fun, fun, fun...but hey, we got lots of presents so that was ok hey? hmm

My DCs get lots too but we pay the fecking bills first.

MrsDeVere Tue 04-Dec-12 21:39:43

Sorry - I got a bit carried away. I didn't mean to try and compete. It all just came out blush

suebfg Tue 04-Dec-12 21:40:21

I had presents as a child but my parents were not well off. I don't remember getting presents other than at Xmas or on birthdays though. My DS now gets quite a bit through the year although some comes from charity shops. We don't spoil him though at Xmas or on his birthday as he gets presents from relatives too.

Ps matey bubble bath is the best bubble bath I have tried for children. Have recently rediscovered it and it smells of sweets and is very bubbly

Badvocsanta Tue 04-Dec-12 21:42:20

It's that sort of thread mrsdv...
I may be 40 now but we are all, to some extent, prisoners of our childhood sad
Must get some matey.....smile

StockingFilly Tue 04-Dec-12 21:43:01

Yes, we did. We got a 'main' present and a few other gifts that were usually cheapo stuff we needed - socks, gloves, toiletries - or stuff like stationery or pens. My mum was a top bargain hunter, though, as she was a skint single mum. We also got a stocking with very cheap little bits inside - sweets, nuts, a sastuma and pencils?, rubbers, hairbands etc.

I do find the spending culture at Xmas grim, tbh. We arent badly off, but I refuse to buy piles of crap for my kids. They got a couple of presents that they really want and a stocking with stuff like books, CDs, sweets. They do nicely out of it, but it isnt bank breaking stuff.

suebfg Tue 04-Dec-12 21:45:06

This thread is really sad. Are there really children in hospital who won't get visitors on Xmas day?

Badvocsanta Tue 04-Dec-12 21:47:21

Sue...my ds1 was in hospital for over a week when he was 2.
There was a baby in the same bay as him who never got a visitor in that time.
I think - from snatches of overheard nurses conversations - that there hadn't been any visitors in a long time sad
It does happen.

suebfg Tue 04-Dec-12 21:58:22

That makes me really sad. I felt really guilty one year as DS went into hospital one Xmas. He was there for about seven hours but not overnight. When he left, the nurses gave him a present and I sort of felt that he wasn't really who these presents should be destined for. It has sort of put me off giving to hospital appeals. But the thought of there being children with no visitors is horrendous ..

PeppermintCreams Tue 04-Dec-12 22:14:44

I watched a documentary on a special care baby unit (I think) earlier in the year. There was a baby in there whose mum didn't visit him often. Not even once a week? She lived in a hostel with an older toddler and she said that she had to concentrate on the older one because the baby had all the doctors and nurses to look after it. sad

We had presents. Cheap market stall, or broken second hand toys or ill fitting clothes. All rubbish, but at least it was something to open. Occasionally from a catalogue and have to spend the rest of the year hearing them moaning about it. We had basic food, and toilet paper most of the time. Bottle of coke and tin of chocolates at Christmas was the highlight of the year. But I do wonder how much better our lives would have been if my parents didn't waste money on cigarettes, alcohol and the betting shop.

Vulgar Tue 04-Dec-12 22:18:01

This is such a sad thread.

Lots of you that were never given gifts seem to have been left with feelings of worthlessness and that is heartbreaking.

I mean, isn't it natural, however poor you are, to want to indulge your kids, even if you have to do it very, very cheaply?

I hate the mindless present buying that goes on at this time of year but my heart bleeds for those children who go without completely.

I cannot comprehend children in hospital without visitors. Just awful.

whois Tue 04-Dec-12 22:18:29

This is a very sad thread. You can be v poor and still have SOME kind of Xmas pressie.

Lots of feckless parents around :-(

FreshGoosedandStuffedLetticia Tue 04-Dec-12 22:26:42

I still have the wooden painted crib my parentxs made for me when they had not much money and also some of the Sindy clothes Mam made. DD2 still plays with them.
I have made many things for my own DCs. Last year I made both girls a sewing kit. My DD1 (18) said last week it was the best present she has ever had.

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Tue 04-Dec-12 22:36:55

'...cigarettes, alchohol and the betting shop.'

That's where the majority of our families' my dad's cash went as well.
We had presents and you'd get the thing you wanted - a board game or a record - and that was it. Oh, and a Cadbury's stocking.

There would be a pillowcase of presents, from extended family.

I never understood why I was always told no when I asked for new clothes - I used my pocket money on tights for school, and only really got clothes at Christmas - when both parents worked. We lived in a working class area, incomes were pretty much similar across the board. But some dads didn't smoke 60+ a day, or drink in the pub every night twice a day on weekends.

I struggle with gifts for myself - never thought about it that way before. DH doesn't buy much for himself either. We tend to give each other a token so
the kids see us open something, occasionally a few surprises for each other. But the funds are for the DCs at Christmas, really.

SchnitzelVonKrumm Tue 04-Dec-12 22:38:51

DD1 was born in a posh private hospital two days before Christmas and we were there for a week. The nursery nurses were looking after twins who'd been very premature and poorly but were ready to go home after having been there for months - the nurses hadn't seen or heard from the (obviously very wealthy) parents for weeks sad

suebfg Tue 04-Dec-12 22:46:05

Yes, bad parenting isn't about wealth or lack of it.

SchnitzelVonKrumm Tue 04-Dec-12 22:47:42

I always got presents but I knew not to ask for much as my mum couldn't afford it - was always amazed by kids at school who got a bike and a computer and whatever the craze toy was.
Funnily enough my children always struggle to think of much they want even though we could notionally afford to buy it.
I really enjoy creating little traditions for them though (I lost my mum relatively young and didn't really do Christmas for a long time) and making a pretty tree, which is what I really loved about Christmas when I was a child.

ssaw2012 Tue 04-Dec-12 22:51:58

Thank you everyone for the nice wishes. I also wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and lots of happy days with your loved ones.

I must admit that some of the post have too made me feel very sad. While my parents did not think of giving us presents they would never eat a better piece of food. I can not imagine my mum eating a chocolate biscuit and giving us a plain one. We were not completely poor but their salaries was just enough to sustain for the family of five. Looking back, I still think they could have saved some money to make us presents at least once a year but they did not think it was important. I knew other children had birthday presents and Christmas presents (not everyone though) but I did not dare to ask for one. These days my mother spends lots of times with my sister's family. She does make presents for her grand children. I think she has learnt it from my sister. It is actually nice to see this change in my mum. Only about two years ago she mentioned about the "amount" of our children's toys. I did, however, reminded her about the toys we did not have. So, I am actually very pleased that she has finally understood why/that children need toys.

BeaLola Tue 04-Dec-12 23:15:15

I have cried reading some of these posts & others have made me laugh out loud.

My parents were not well off but were "older parents" who came from large families & never had anything new themselves. I cannot think of a birthday or a christmas that wasn't made special. We always had warmth, food and loving arms to hug us and their time. We didn't get tons of presents & often gifts were 2nd hand eg bike. I think both my brother & I really appreciate how much they have done for us as we have got older & understood more about life, finances , work etc.

Christmas was magical & still is. We adopted a little one earlier this year & are so looking forward to our first Christmas together - my Dad cannot wait either for his first as Grandpa !

My DS has got quite a few gifts for Christmas ............. the most fun I have had so far though is buying nostalgic or daft items that I hope he will like for his stocking eg whirly santa snowglobe, popping candy, goldcoins, superman slipper boots, jumping beans, slinky, glow stars for ceiling. What I remember so far for this first Christmas is his little face when he opened his first ever advent calendar or the look on his face when he watches the PNP Father Christmas Video & sees the book with his name on it - priceless . I'm sure there were be tons more memories to come ............ i hope when he is grown up & is asked about Christmas he has lots of great memories that make him smile & laugh too.

Ponyinthepool Wed 05-Dec-12 03:18:17

We got presents but it's that's not the thing I remember most about my childhood Christmasses. My mum loved Christmas more than anyone I've ever met and would have it in mind all year round, keeping an eye out for little gifts to go in the crackers we'd make, taking us to a forest to collect pine cones to make wreaths and decorations, making the cake and the pudding in June (and feeding them with booze for the next 6 months) etc etc.

Almost everything we had at Christmastime was homemade and what I remember most is how much fun we had together making all those things, they are my happiest memories.

I've always felt very lucky to have had that, and all the more so now reading some of these sad stories. I hope you all have a lovely Christmas this year. In the long run it's the love and care that goes into Christmas that's memorable, not the presents.

Morloth Wed 05-Dec-12 04:54:22

Another toilet roll hoarder here, I buy the packs of 36 when they are on sale everytime so that I have heaps and heaps in the cupboard. I think of all the shit things (hehe see what I did there) about being poor that actually came towards the top of the list.

We also got some Christmas presents, not big, not flash but there was always something and we always had the whole family (and a few waifs and strays) and THAT is what I remember from my childhood Christmasses.

Now as the owner of the biggest house I end up with everyone at my house, which I love and I think the boys enjoy having everyone around as well. I do love buying them great presents but the best bit is opening those presents with family. (I actually have a stash of random pressies in case we have unexpected extras at Christmas so that everyone gets something to open).

I had a happy childhood even though it was poor, as far as I can see my boys are having a very similarly happy childhood without the poor bit.

Allalonenow Wed 05-Dec-12 06:39:54

We were quite poor when I was a small child, but I did get presents, often home made, like a doll's cot made out of a crate. Mum was a wonderful seamstress, so the cot had beautiful quilted bedding. Other years my doll would get new clothes Mum had made. There was sometimes a board game, very occasionally a book, a well off aunt always sent a selection box.

But I remember it as being happy, the excitement of a sock with a tangerine and some marbles, seeing the tree on Christmas morning. I feel so sorry for those here who missed out on delight in their childhood.

I think one lives out the echos of your childhood throughout the rest of your life, as the stories here show, so when I hit hard times as an adult, I could still make sure Christmas was fun for my son with simple home made treats.

I'm not especially looking forward to Christmas this year, as it will be my first alone for many years, but I'm hoping that simple treats will see me through, I'm stock piling Maltesers!

exoticfruits Wed 05-Dec-12 06:55:31

It is a terribly sad thread. Christmas was a magical time, and that was much more important than the present. You can do the magic for very little and it was spending time as a family.

Badvocsanta Wed 05-Dec-12 07:49:21

Making decorations, baking, going to carol concerts and seeing the lights turned on...it's all very cheap really.
Will be making decorations and mince pies and cakes with my two after they break up from school smile
We went to a national trust property at the weekend to see the Xmas decs...they had a brass band playing carols, giving out mulled wine. Was lovely smile

Hippymama Wed 05-Dec-12 10:01:10

I've read this thread with a huge lump in my throat. Most of you would be around the same age as me or younger and it's made me sad to think that you didn't get presents at Christmas sad

We never had much money growing up but we always had presents and new clothes at Christmas. I feel very lucky having read this thread.

We don't have a lot of money this year and i wasn't looking forward to Christmas because of it, but this thread has given me a kick up the arse. It's not about how much you spend, it's about making happy memories and we can do that without spending a lot smile

I hope we all have a fantastic Christmas x

Coralanne Wed 05-Dec-12 10:34:33

Theicingontop. I was like that with socks. Only had 2 pair and had to wash them out every night,

When my DD was at school she had about 40 pair of socks. Same as DS.

Actually I have also bought 2 five packs (expensive) of socks to put in DD's Christmas parcel.blush

Coralanne Wed 05-Dec-12 10:37:00

This thread is a bit of an eye opener to me. Even though I am a relatively young Grandma I thought everyone born after my generation always got loads of Christmas and birthday gifts.

Theicingontop Wed 05-Dec-12 10:48:30

It's nice to know that I'm not the only one with issues surrounding buying myself things. I struggle with buying myself conditioner sometimes blush I just feel so guilty.

It's weird isn't it, that it doesn't go the opposite way? When you don't have things as a child you'd expect that when you have money, you'd go to town. But nope.

rotavirusrita Wed 05-Dec-12 11:06:32

such a sad thread.

we went from being "well off" to not having any money when my dad left to go abroad and our house was repossessed. I was about 11 and I remember mum being down to literally her last £10 note, and having to "be vegetarian" for a few yrs as beans were cheaper then meat. Thing is though I never remeber not getting presents at christmas or it being a miserable time of year. I know she never drank, smoked, or had any kind of social life for a long while but that didnt seem to matter to her. We were always surrounded with relatives and she managed to get second hand or "hand me down" presents from relatives. I remember my sister and I getting a big pile of pont magazines that had been our cousins.... we thought they were amazing. My mum has been a bit flakey in other respects in recent yrs ( another man on the scene you see) but I am greatful for what she did for us then.

I also get very guilty about spending money.... I menu plan and get fruit and veg cheap from the market.... even though we probably could be more extravagant. I also still get anxiety attacks when I go into a bank or check how much money is in my account!

rotavirusrita Wed 05-Dec-12 11:06:47

"pony magazines"

BookieMonster Wed 05-Dec-12 11:09:48

I just remember Christmas as an utterly anxious time. My parents were useless with money and the calls from debt collectors would be bad. They used to make me deal with them. It was worse in January and February, mind.
I completely overcompensate with my DC.

ssaw2012 Wed 05-Dec-12 11:17:41

Last night I talked to my older DS regarding presents. We came to an agreement that I buy a few presents for him and for his brother instead of one expensive.
1. Bubble bath and I think I might go for Matey instead of Lush bubble bombs. I think I have seen them in Tesco. 2. Kinder Surprise Christmas edition. 3. stationary. 4. other little things I am planning to find in the city centre.

Last night I also checked Past Times website for toys. I do remember they were sell interesting stuff. I was surprised by the high prices. Many toys were overpriced. I would not find John Lewis cheap for buying toys but similar toys at Past Times had a double price. It is a bit ridiculous.

Janeatthebarre Wed 05-Dec-12 11:46:30

We always got presents at Christmas. A lot of them were second hand things bought at sales of work eg old annuals or a bike that my parents resprayed and looked like new - it didn't matter to us, we were really excited that Santa had remembered to come. Once, when I was very small my parents were totally broke and my mum just knitted me a jumper with a reindeer on the front and she said I was absolutely thrilled. We did get new stuff as well but this is my first Christmas without my father who died during the year, and it is the thought of him scouring sales of works for books and Bunty annuals that he knew we'd like, or painting an old bike himself so we would think Santa had bought us a new one, that really brings tears to my eyes.

takataka Wed 05-Dec-12 13:16:13

just got some great stuff from our local pound shops ssaw; Moshi Monster/ spiderman/ hello kitty bubble baths...

SantasLittleHo Wed 05-Dec-12 13:23:04

We got lots of presents when my dad was alive, minimum when Mum was single and working 4 jobs, the first christmas with my alkie step dad was amazing. We'd never seen so many presents. The years after were very lean. One year we got no presents, no tree, no dinner... just the 4 of us sat huddled watching christmas tv while our parents recovered from a hangover. The year after I got a weekend job just so I could buy my siblings a gift to open. They thought they'd been bad. sad

BeaWheesht Wed 05-Dec-12 14:54:24

We were all overrun with presents as Christmas and my kids are the same although i spend less because I trawl car boots and second hand sites.

I'm really shocked how many people got nothing - afaik all of my friends at school got stuff. One friend in particular got a present every day in December - not a wee thing either - I remember her getting computer games and designer clothes and jewellery for her 'advent calndar'

butterfingerz Wed 05-Dec-12 17:08:12

We were poor but always had Christmas presents, even when my dad was made redundant. They weren't expensive, they seemed to go for quantity over quality! Which I guess is what small kids want. My mum got us involved in Christmas cooking, mince pies, puddings and cakes. My dad was a perfectionist when it came to decorating the house in lots of foil garlands and tinsel and strings of Xmas cards. And lots of nice but probably cheap food. Yes, poor but happy!

BelinaTheChicken Wed 05-Dec-12 23:14:19

OP if your boys love bath bombs you can make them pretty cheaply


Not as good as lush, but still good

ssaw2012 Thu 06-Dec-12 12:25:20

Thanks Belina. I really like it. Looks so simple.

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