When Christmas is Hard

It wasn’t that big of a deal, really. Still, I felt a twinge of sadness whenever I thought about it because it’s something I really liked a lot.

I made the small zippered pouch, all by hand—every last stitch. I wouldn’t call it a work of art, although I was quite proud of the clever piecing and homespun appearance.


I filled the little pouch with my most prized hand sewing supplies:

  • Tiny gold scissors in the shape of a stork that were so sharp they cut perfectly all the way to the end of the beak.
  • The only thimble I’ve ever found that fit perfectly.
  • A small magnetic needle holder filled with the finest German stainless steel sharps in a variety of sizes.
  • A tiny container of appliqué pins
  • And two spools of thread just the right size and shape to fill the remaining space in the sewing kit.

It’s been years since my sewing kit went missing. I looked from time to time, always consoling myself that it would turn up. It had to. Sewing kits don’t just get up and walk away.

In time, my casual attempts turned to all-out searches and eventually to excavations. I emptied drawers; looked in nooks and crannies in every room of the house.

From time to time I considered making a new pouch and refilling it with all the right items. I came this close to ordering a new pair of stork scissors. Wow, I didn’t remember them being that expensive.

I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t bring myself to admit the originals were hopelessly lost.

I came to consider that there might be a lesson in all of this that I needed to learn,  certain it has to do with the unimportance of things compared to people.

It’s just a sewing kit, I kept telling myself—a tiny treasure that must have fallen into the wastebasket or somehow got scooped up into a donation bag. It’s not like I lost a child or a close friend. I still have my home, my family and so many things in my life that bring me so much joy.

Over the years that little sewing kit has prompted lots of “going through” and cleaning out. I have pared down our closets, given away furniture and household items we don’t need to others who do. And that felt good.

One day I was cleaning up a desk I no longer needed to give to a friend who would find it useful. At the last minute, I decided to check all the drawers just to make sure they were empty and clean.

Right there in the small drawer on the right was my little sewing kit—exactly where I put it so it would always be handy.

I got my sewing kit back. But more than that, I experienced something I don’t understand fully but believe with all my heart: It is in giving that we receive.

Christmas is only days ahead. We’ve reached the biggest gift-giving season of the year and with it, for some, brings torrents of pressure and expectation.

Maybe today you’re having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit because you just don’t have what it takes to come up with appropriate gifts.

Perhaps your heart is broken because you’ve recently lost a loved one. You cannot wrap your mind around how to celebrate in the midst of the pain.

Some of you may be struggling to make ends meet—you just do not have the means to meet the expectations and demands of those around you. It feels like you are nearly suffocating.

You want to make everyone’s dreams come true, but you’re only human. It’s taking all you’ve got just to provide the most basic needs of those who depend on you.

Whatever you’re going through, let me remind you that you are not alone. The fact that you are reading this right now means you are part of an online family—my EC Family! We gather daily around our common bond; this blog and our desire to save time and money every day. I care and I know that thousands of your fellow-readers care, as well.

There are lots of ways you can give to others this beautiful holiday season that do not require money. It’s good to remember that sometimes the very best gifts of all do not come from a store.

Watch for tomorrow’s post for a long list of practical, doable ways you can give gifts to those you love this Christmas—gifts that don’t cost a dime!

Question: Have you ever treasured something that you thought was lost forever? Did it turn up? If so, where? Share your story in the comments area below!

2018 Holiday Gift Guides — Best Gifts for Foodies

2018 Holiday Gift Guides — Best Gift Ideas for Her

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2018 Holiday Gift Guides — Mary’s Favorite Things

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18 replies
  1. annie56
    annie56 says:

    Thanks for sharing. It is indeed a difficult time of year for me & I know for many others. Such a beautiful season to be feeling so sad. And much to be grateful for!

  2. mamasan49_376
    mamasan49_376 says:

    Good story, thanks for sharing.
    I`ve learned instead of running myself ragged looking for something, I pray “Lord you know where it is, show me” HE comes thru every time.

  3. Deb Westmoreland
    Deb Westmoreland says:

    Sometimes I chastise myself for spending so much time reading columns yours included, just that feeling we all get that I should be doing something, stop lazing around reading, then I bring up your column and read the most wonderful, heartfelt article, and all I can think is “I love you” and I am right where I need to be! Thank you for that.

  4. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    I look forward to tomorrow’s list. Today’s blog brought tears to my eyes. So many people are struggling out there. Our house was burglarized 9 years ago and all my most prized and sentimental possessions were taken. Stuff that meant absolutely nothing to anyone but me…gone. It taught me the hard lesson you spoke about – things are things, but people are what we should all be focusing on. Unfortunately, I will never get my possessions back, I’m sure they were dumped in a ditch without care and the good stuff pawned but I’ll always be thankful for my family, friends and community. I too clean out the house much more often now and don’t collect stuff I don’t need, makes for less clutter and stress! Merry Christmas to all!

  5. Betty Thomas
    Betty Thomas says:

    Thank you for such a great reminder Mary. We are all human and not perfect at all. We make mistakes and life can be messy. People come and go in our lives for many reasons but I try to learn a lesson or heal my heart at such losses. Giving of our time and ourselves costs nothing but will leave a memory to hold on to. It is truly the best gift when we can quit comparing ourselves to others and set our own expectations for us and our families. I wish you all Peace.

  6. Pamela Martin
    Pamela Martin says:

    I was given a ring for my college graduation from my grandmother. The stones came from an antique brooch from my great grandmother. I am very good about putting jewelry way so when this went missing I was very concerned. Tearing the house apart did not turn it up. I was in tears. Weeks later, my husband found it in a very unlikely location. We have no idea how it got there but I was sooooo grateful that it turned up.

  7. Cathy Walston
    Cathy Walston says:

    For two years I thought I’d lost my daughter. She hooked up with an abusive druggie. At one point while she lived in Missouri, I was told by a family member that he had seen her & didn’t think he’d ever see her alive again…she looked that bad. That night I prayed for one more chance to see her & tell her I love her. Less than 3 hours later, a MO deputy was calling to ask for financial help for my daughter who was trying to get back to IL. My husband and I went to MO immediately to pick her up. She still had a long road ahead of her, but this year our family will all be together again for Christmas (minus the abusive jerk)!

    • Kay Jones
      Kay Jones says:

      What a wonderful start to my day, reading about your joy. You may have a difficult road ahead but please know you have lots of good thoughts and prayers from all of us here.

      • Cheri Gee
        Cheri Gee says:

        Your story was incredibly beautiful. The grace of God to give your daughter another chance at a beautiful life, with lovely parents whose hearts are filled with love. Thank you so much for sharing your story. We just lost our 26 year old grandson to drugs and gangs. It breaks my heart that we won’t have a second chance to help him.

  8. Muriel Donaldson
    Muriel Donaldson says:

    Such beautiful responses, and best wishes to you and your family, Cathy, especially your daughter’s long road ahead…
    To someone who has very little money for Christmas giving to their little ones, I feel that I must share this idea that came to me because of a need. Our son’s family has NO MONEY to buy gifts this Christmas and we learned that our daughter-in-law has to work from home this week because they did not have gas money for her to drive to work. Our son will be working for his dad on a home project to earn $100 for presents for their two children, 4 and 6. As I wondered what I could do to help bring excitement to the little one’s Christmas, I got the idea that my daughter-in-law could stage a Christmas morning treasure hunt. I went to the Dollar Store and thoughtfully shopped for items that each would enjoy–10 items for each (slinky, coloring books, small pinball machine, paint-your-own ornament kits, ponytail holders, stickers, etc.) Their mom will wrap the items and hide them throughout the house and the children will take turns looking for their hidden treasures, one by one. The mom is so excited and can’t wait for Christmas morning, and I can’t wait to hear all about it. I know they will have lots of fun. What a bargain for only $20!

    • psherman115
      psherman115 says:

      What a FABulous idea, Muriel. And such a beautiful column, Mary. I currently and clearly ‘feel your pain.’ I’ve been searching for several weeks for a lovely Christmas pin that was a gift from my boss in recent years, as well as a necklace that I’ve not seen recently. The casual ‘looking’ progressed to a full-out search and cleaning out of jewelry to give away but, as yet, finding neither of the lost pieces. As frustrating as it is, I have finally just had to commit my frustration (with myself) to my gracious God, replacing the fretting when it comes to mind with a conscious gratitude for all that I did find/do have. I really hope for a similar outcome someday and it will indeed be a surprise because I have searched EVERY place I can think to look. And Cathy’s experience with her daughter surely puts it all in perspective. Thank you, Mary and EC family for sharing. Wishing you each a Merry Christmas!

      • Jan New
        Jan New says:

        One Christmas we went to the local Goodwill and purchased 2 bags full of toys that our 3 kids would like. We had just moved and didn’t have a paycheck coming in for a week. After 35 years, my kids still remember the neat toys they got that day. And, the free tree we got from Montgomery Ward!

  9. Michelle V
    Michelle V says:

    A few months ago I took down my oldest wind chime made of utensils. One of the forks had fallen off and I vowed to restring the treasured windchime. I put that stupid fork somewhere and have yet to find it. Like you, Mary, it has caused a good cleaning out all over the house and yet I still have not found it! It will turn up in some odd place hopefully next year.

  10. Vivian Wright Freppon
    Vivian Wright Freppon says:

    Congratulations on your wonderful memory find! Christmas is hard financially and emotionally but God is good and as long as we keep Him as our #1 He will always take care of us! Merry and Joyous Christmas to you, Mary, and your family as well as the EC family here!


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