Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Christmas Story

One of our Mind Change Moment readers, Toni  LaGatta, shared this story with us and we wanted to share it with all of you. Thanks to Toni for letting us pass this along.  It is a bit longer than our usual posts but well worth your time. Merry Christmas and may God bless you in the New Year.

Christmas of 1979 will always be very special to me. I was a single mom with two boys, 4 and 7. I worked in Kissimmee, Florida, as a dental assistant, making $110 a week. Our 1973 Chevy worked most of the time, and through a special program I had managed to move into a small three bedroom house. It was our first Christmas in our new home, and I was wondering how I could make it special for the kids. I couldn’t afford to go home to Virginia where my family was, and none of them could afford to come to Florida. I had been divorced a few years and the kids’ dad lived in Texas. It was going to be just the three of us for Christmas.

We’d gone out in the woods and dug up a small pine tree, potted it and put it on a table in the living room to make it look taller. It was too flimsy for real ornaments, so we put red bows all over it. There was no extra money for presents, so it was a relief when the kids’ dad sent $20 for me to buy them something, then my parents sent them $20, and my grandma sent me $20 to buy myself something special. When you make $110 a week $60 seems like a fortune, but I still had to be practical.

The boys were outgrowing everything, so I went to McCrory’s and bought two pairs of jeans, two shirts, and two pairs of sneakers, and one of those packages of ten tiny metal cars. I was going to wrap them up separately so it would look like a lot. While I was looking for something for myself, I saw the “Underoos.” Anyone remember those? Superman and Spiderman Underoos. I bought the Superman ones for Jay and the Spiderman ones for Aaron. The rest of the money had to go for food.

Christmas morning the boys were actually excited about the new jeans and especially the sneakers (they thought they made them run faster!). But the real hit was the Underoos! They stripped right there in the living room and put them on and began “flying” around the house and jumping off the back of the couch and “sticking” to the walls, celebrating their special gift! When it was time to get dressed to go to my friend’s house, they insisted on wearing the Underoos under their new clothes.

At my dental office job I worked with one other girl, Kathy, who had two boys, each a year older than mine. Her husband was an engineer at Disney, and they lived in a very nice neighborhood. Our kids played together on weekends. We were invited over for Christmas lunch with all of their aunts, uncles, grandparents and kids. When we walked into their house, there was this enormous tree and what looked like a hundred opened presents scattered all over the living room. I wanted to cry. I couldn’t imagine what my kids were thinking.

Then Kathy’s boys jumped up and ran to my boys, saying “Hey look what we got” and started getting out all these great toys. Then what happened next is the reason this particular Christmas is so memorable to me. After looking at all the toys and stuff, my boys lifted up their shirts and showed their Underoos and were saying “Yeah, but look what we got” with a genuine undertone of almost sadness that, with all the stuff that Kathy’s boys had gotten, they hadn’t gotten any Underoos.

This time I wanted to cry because I was so happy that my boys were satisfied and grateful for what they had, even while standing in the huge pile of stuff their friends had! Kathy had raised some generous kids, so they shared their toys, and all the kids played the rest of the day, mostly outside, “flying” and “sticking” to things.

When my family called that afternoon, all my boys could talk about was Spiderman and Superman Undreoos. When my grandma asked what I had gotten myself for Christmas I told her...the Underoos.

That Christmas will always be special to me because I found that seeing my boys so happy with simple things was better than any present I could have gotten for myself, and it wasn’t about the size or glitter of the gift that mattered, but how it was valued.

God sacrificed to give us a Special Gift. How do we value it? Do we hide it underneath, or do we lift it up and celebrate it? We can have so many great gifts now— nice homes, good cars, clothes, all kinds of “toys.” A lot of us have enormous piles of presents in our lives. There’s nothing bad about having a lot, if you have the right attitude about it all—like Kathy’s boys letting others who might not have much enjoy what we’ve been blessed with. 

But with all we have, nothing compares with the Special Gift God has given us. This Christmas when the world is shouting at us “Look at this beautiful thing” or “Look at that great toy,” let’s keep thinking in our hearts and saying to a world that needs to hear it, “yeah, but look what we got!”


  1. Great story and reminder, Toni, about what we have. And that includes precious brothers and sisters like you and Bob.

  2. That is a great story and brings us back to what Christmas is all about! Thanks for sharing and reminding us of what we got! Now I m going to get some Underoos, :) Merry Christmas!