Story time

Christmas as a low-income family

Hello everyone,

Welcome to my blog. Today we will be talking about the most beautiful time of the year. My favorite time of the year. Today we are going to talk about Christmas.

Those who have been around from the beginning know that my family was poor. I actually don’t like to use the word “poor”, because we still had a roof over our head, clothes to wear, and food in the fridge. But we did live below the poverty line. 

So what did Christmas look like in a low-income family? Let’s start with the big elephant in the room: the presents. Did my siblings and I get presents? No, we didn’t. I don’t know if it was because of the money or because buying presents for Christmas is more of a western thing. To be honest, I didn’t feel sad about it or anything. I actually didn’t believe Santa Claus really existed. In The Netherlands, we have a Dutch Holiday called “Sinterklaas” and his birthday is on December 5th. On his birthdays he goes to all schools and gives every kid a present. He also goes to people’s houses at night to give presents etc. As a child, I really believed in his existence because I saw him. Since I had never seen Santa Claus in real life, I didn’t believe that he really existed, so I didn’t expect any presents from him.

But how did we celebrate Christmas? First, we would decorate our house with a Christmas tree and Christmas lights. Sometimes we would make something at school that we could use as decoration at home. Only the decoration already meant a lot to me. It made the house feel so cozy and magical. 

I don’t know if this also happens in other countries, but in the Netherlands, we receive “Christmas packages”. We basically receive boxes full of festive food and snacks. You can receive them for example from your job or from your church.

I remember that we received a really big box in 2000. I actually don’t know who gave it to us. It must have been from an immigration organization or something. The food plays a big role during Christmas time. It is really nice to receive a Christmas package, especially if you are a low-income family. 

At school, we celebrated Christmas as well. The classrooms would be decorated as well. I loved how the classrooms looked during Christmas. We would also sing a lot of Christmas songs and the teachers would read us some Christmas stories. There would also be a Christmas play where they would pick kids from different classes. In 2006 I actually participated in the play. I played Mary. It was so much fun. And before Christmas break, we did my favorite thing. We had a Christmas dinner. Everyone had to prepare something and take it to school in the evening. After school, we all went home, did our hair, and dressed beautifully. Then we went back to school with the food our parents made. The classrooms looked so beautiful. Our tables would be decorated with table cloths, candles, and Christmas decorations. Thinking about those days really put a smile on my face. If you only knew how magical those nights felt. I went to 3 different elementary schools because we moved 3 times. The last 2 schools were so diverse, so we ate food from different cultures, which was really nice. At the end of the evening our parents picked us up to go home and the Christmas break started.

At home, we watched Christmas movies, and my siblings and I sang the Christmas song we used to sing at school. On Christmas eve, my mom would cook and make be something called “Oliebollen” in Dutch (see picture below). In the Netherlands we always eat those during Christmas and in some African cultures as well, that’s why my mom knows how to make them. During Christmas, there are always food stands outside selling oliebollen. Some would ask €1,50 for one freaking oliebol. Thank God my mom made those at home for us.

Anyway, on Christmas eve we dressed up and ate at home. We ate what my mom cooked and of course the oliebollen. And we took some pictures. Those nights were so beautiful.

I am so thankful for those beautiful moments we had as a family.

For me, Christmas has always been about being together and eating together. I don’t care about the presents. 

I almost forgot to mention the snow. The snow made Christmas extra magical. Sad enough we haven’t had snow in a while on Christmas. During the Christmas break, we used to play outside in the snow. I remember me and my older brother making a big snowman in our backyard in the year 2000. We didn’t have a scarf for him, so my mom cut a piece from a fabric that she had, so we could give our snowman a scarf. The things mothers do to make their children happy. I think Christmas 2000 was my favorite Christmas. I think it makes sense because our family was complete. My little brother was born. We lived in a bigger house. I started going to school that year. And of course, we had a lot of food to celebrate Christmas.

So this is it, guys. I just wanted to show you guys that Christmas can still be a beautiful time, even on a low income. Don’t feel bad if you can’t afford gifts. At the end of the day, it’s the memories that matter the most.

Before I end this post, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I know that the past 2 years have been tough on all of us and we are still going through it. But we will get through it guys. Sometimes it looks like were are in a never-ending circle, but things will get better. I’m speaking it into existence for all of us.

Stay strong and stay safe!


Color and Coins

5 thoughts on “Christmas as a low-income family”

  1. Loved this post.
    Christmas IS about family and being together during the holidays and appreciating all that you do have, how big or small that may be. Everything else is just gravy on top, and I don’t even like gravy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I was young, and living in a small community in Alberta, a woman dressed as Santa used to go to every house in the village. She always had a gift for the family. I think parents contacted her before her rounds and contributed to the gift pile. I just remember how brave and welcome she was.


  3. I really loved when you said you don’t like to use the word poor, because you still had a roof over your head, clothes and food. That touched me. Because some people are not even appreciative of the fact that at least they have a roof over their heads. But I digress….beautiful post. I always knew Santa didn’t exist and that it was family buying the gifts, but you know it was still a thrill to talk about and anticipate “Santa’s” arrival. Christmas has become way too commercialized and about material things. The true reason for the season gets lost in all the madness. But I love Christmas – it’s a time to be with family to just have a good time and celebrate the reason for the season and eat good food! Really nice reflections – now you can start your own traditions and memories.

    Liked by 1 person

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