Can You See the Difference?

(Picture from

Even growing up as I did, with meager circumstance, I don't think I knew we were poor.  Most of my friends lived in the same situation.  We went to school together, attended church and played side by side.  I had one friend, who, looking back had much more than I did, but I'm not sure I noticed.  

The time I really understood that my home was different was one Christmas.  Our morning came and we'd had a good day.  I don't remember everything I got, but I remember one thing. It was this little, white, stuffed bear.  I had asked for it specifically and was thrilled to have found it under the tree. After the gift opening, we would normally just stay home to enjoy our gifts.  This year we did something new.
My dad's cousin had invited us to brunch.  First of all, we didn't eat brunch.  We had breakfast and lunch. Secondly, the cousin lived one neighborhood over.  Just a few streets away, but the differences put miles between us.  I starkly remember walking up the brick path to their big, front door.  The one with pretty glass panels inlaid into the wood.  I had been at their home before. They had a basement with pinball machines, a pool table and out back, a pool.  I knew they had more money than us. That was clear.  What brought the difference into focus was behind that front door on Christmas morning.  We walked in and there, just past the foyer, the sight took my breath away.  The tall, color-coordinated tree overlooked a sea of goodies. Two sets of water skis were set against one wall. Opened gifts lay in neat piles around the floor, clearly set there for each child.  One pile was more than everything that had just hours before, been under our tree.
Santa had been holding out on me.

Of course, I knew about the big guy in the red suit by now.  I didn't think Santa had been skimpy, but I realized that day how very unfair life could be.

I grew up happy. I have no regrets and adore my parents for the life they gave me.  But, now, I have to wonder if my children see the differences in our home compared to their peers'.  They must.  I just hope they'll look back someday and be grateful for their happy, if meager, lives.


  1. we grew up that kind of poor, too... and the family I am now the head of is also that kind of poor--- but we make memories that are filled with friends and giggles and smiles and laughter and I choose to believe that all the love is someday going to matter more than any one gift.


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