Ever receive NOTHING for Christmas as a child? Parents - ever give NOTHING to your kids?

In my time here there have been a few threads about crap holiday experiences, douche parents, etc. Some of these threads feature stories about kids finding out their about bad financial circumstances by getting gifts that they didn’t want, or parents kind of screwing the pooch when it comes to considering their feelings, etc.

However, in my life I’ve heard stories about children who wake up on Christmas morning and find NOTHING. Not a crappy gift - NO gift. And I’m not talking about a family who’s living in their car - I mean a family who has some sort of house/apartment, possibly set up a tree, and yet there’s not a single gift for the child.

Now, it’s possible I’m remembering an ad campaign from my childhood about helping the needy, but I’m wondering - has this actually ever happened to anyone? As a child, the promise of Christmas is held out to you, and then your parents delivered…nothing?

Obviously, this assumes that your family celebrated Christmas, and it equally assumes that there was the suggestion made that there would be some sort of celebration in your household.

I must say, assuming this has happened, I think I would have a very hard time feeling charitable towards the parents in question - even if the only gift is a home-made sock puppet out of an old sock, at least it’s something - ya know?

So enlighten me - does this actually happen, or was it an advertising thing to get people to give to charities? FWIW, if it’s the latter, it worked (at least for me). The bulk of my Christmas donating goes to children’s charities and when I was working I always spearheaded the adopt-a-family campaign at my office (needy families sign up and are ‘adopted’ by a corporate sponsor who purchases toys, stockings, socks & underwear, grocery gift cards, etc for their particular family.)

After I was 14 or so, there were many Christmases without gifts. This is not because we were poor or because we didn’t celebrate Christmas: we always had a big dinner at least. My parents were always very generous with us kids (I didn’t pay a penny for college, always had a car in high school, never lacked anything I really wanted) but they didn’t much like the rampant materialism they associated with Christmas: they were happy to give us anything, but they didn’t like the idea of a day when you were supposed to give people things, or the lead up of weeks of thinking about what we were getting. So by the time all the kids were old enough to understand their reasoning, Christmas presents more or less dropped away. Birthday presents also disappeared as you hit puberty.

When I was a Dutch immigrant kid in Canada, we observed St. Nicks day on December 5. One year the expected visit never arrived, and we (I had a brother and sister) were told that we must have been bad enough for St Nick to deny us.

Several weeks later the presents showed up.

Nope. We were poor, but that is the one time of year we got toys.

Humm - none of these really fit the OP - that is, the picture of a disappointed tot in front of an empty stocking/bare tree, that I’m remembering.

Manda JO’s story seems perfectly reasonable - once you’re in your teens and don’t believe in Santa and whatnot, not making a huge production about X-mas seems like no big deal, although it’s important that it doesn’t sound like you were led to believe that you would be receiving gifts on that day either.

The Flying Dutchman’s story might be a bit closer, but it seems like more of an inelegant attempt to transition the kids to the traditions of the new country - perhaps an explanation that Saint Nick comes later in Canada (due to the biggness of the earth, maybe?) seems like it would have been a bit gentler, but in the end the children were happy.

Khadaji - that reality is sort of fueling my question - very very poor people love their children and don’t want them disappointed just the same as not very very poor people - one of my friends growing up was from a very poor family and even though the gifts she got seemed lame to me (me being a totally spoiled rich kid who got everything on her list plus about 10 extra things to ease my mother’s maternal guilt) she still got gifts and was pretty stoked about it too.

I guess this must be a weird memory from childhood. Or maybe it was something my mom told my brother and I to make us feel guilty for being spoiled. I’ll leave it to the reader to figure out the logic behind THAT one…

My favorite Christmas tradition is the Krampus.

Hey, not only do bad kids get no presents - Father Christmas is replaced by a freaking demon! Who drags the bad kids out of the house in his sack, right down to the pits of hell!

Nowthat would add a certain frisson to the yuletide season. Particularly for the really young kiddies.



Eat your vegetables indeed!!

I can get behind the idea that Christmas can feel overhyped to people and they want to cut back in ways that make the holidays more meaningful to everyone involved. More power to you all for it. But this?!

Aw HELL no. It is my BIRTHDAY. Y’all BETTER gimme a damn present.

I once got a Box of Nothing for Christmas. It was a cigar box with elaborate covering filled with turn-of-the-century clipart proclaiming that the box contained Nothing. My mother got it at some gift store.
I’ve still got the box. Oddly enough, I’ve always kept things in it.

Although I guess that, arguably, the box is a gift, and I really did get Something.

My mom was one of 12 and had six of us: if we made a big deal about birthdays, it never would have stopped.

Not having money is no excuse. I don’t remember it but have been told the story about the Christmas my parents were very low on cash. They bought balloons and my big sister and I (I must have been maybe 3 years old or less) were greeted Christmas morning by the whole living room filled up with blown-up balloons. Apparently we were the envy of the entire neighborhood for a few days.

Same here. I’ve heard horror stories about things my dad had to do for money (no, not that horrible, sickos!) but I can’t remember a Christmas without gifts. We may not have had all the GI Joes or all the Cabbage Patch dolls, or even any accessories but we had at least one.

Now that we’re in our 30s and begging her to stop giving gifts (seriously, we’re now a family without want or need), mom just can’t stop herself. I think it’s the same part of the DNA that makes people provide food and shelter for their offspring that they must also furnish holiday gifts.

Excellent point. Not even a little cake and a card, though?

My parents did something similar when I was a kid. I could not have been more than 5. On Christmas Eve my parents gave my older sister (she was 6), my brother (3) and me a bag of balloons (there was a baby, too, but he wouldn’t have cared about balloons). They were the huge six-foot long multi-shaped balloons and we had a blast with them. Of course, being kids the balloons lasted about 20 minutes, including blow-up time. I told my sister - that’s okay, tomorrow’s Christmas and we’ll get toys! She told me, “No, that was it. That was Christmas. Mom and Dad couldn’t buy us any toys and there won’t be any in the morning.” I couldn’t believe it and was bitterly disappointed, of course.

By the next morning, with everyone acting like it was just another day, we just moved on. I was a kid. Kids adapt. When I asked about it years later (having not thought of it for decades!), my mom said she felt so bad about that Christmas that she swore it would never, ever happen again if they had to go into monumental debt to provide a nice Christmas. And they did.

And I have had nightmares about it being Christmas Eve or Christmas morning and having forgotten to buy anything for my own children! Cold sweat-inducing, indeed…

For those who haven’t seen him mention it before, Olentzero here got his name from the charcoal maker who delivers presents to kids in the Basque Country - so excuse me, sir, are you planning on going on strike this year? Don’t make me go to Sweden and get all etxekoandre(1) on your ass, mister!

In Spain, the threat is that “if you’re bad, the Magi will only bring you coal!” One year (the second year that us kids were “Magi helpers” ourselves, and boy did we have a big fight over who got to work for which Magus(2)), we went through the ritual of each of us laying down one shoe, then each person in order went and laid down his presents to each of the others, then we went back to open them…
to reveal candy coal :eek: That was all! Each of us had a huge lump of black sugar. We stared in dismay, Mom and Dad did a little song and dance of asking us whether we thought we deserved more; I remember Littlebro mentioning that Middlebro “helps me put my shoes on!”. After the other presents came out, we talked about where the idea of the Magi bringing “only coal” might come from, and I remember pointing out that if it was a matter of the family being too poor to afford presents and In Olden Times, then coal might actually be a thing to be very grateful for!

1: lit. housemistress, more like “SWMBO by anybody who doesn’t want to sleep in the rain”
2: the intermediate explanation between three dudes spending the night of January 5th zipping all over the world and “the Magi are the parents”. The parents help the Magi, would you like to help the Magi now?

My dad tells a story of one Christmas in Oklahoma as a boy where they got nothing - not a single thing - because their father had spent all the money in a poker game.

His father later reformed, but . . . there are more than a few things in his childhood that are as ghastly as that.

Never for Christmas, but I had a birthday once where my parents went and returned every single present they’d bought me, and took me with them so I could watch, because I did something really awfully bad. I don’t remember the crime, but I definitely remember the punishment! (I think I did get a cake and a Birthday Dinner, you know, all your favorite stuff, but no party and no presents that year.)

My B-day is December 25th, and I never got anything more than my siblings. It was all “this is for your birthday and Christmas combined.” Nothing wrapped in birthday wrapping paper. My mother wouldn’t let me have my favorite breakfast of French toast and bacon because it would “ruin your appetite for Christmas dinner.” I liked chocolate cake with vanilla icing best, but I always got a (tasteless) white cake with white icing and red and green decorations.

I’m still bitter about it.

That sucks. My brother is a Christmas baby and my parents always made sure that he had separate gifts. In the morning we would all open our Christmas gifts, and after dinner we all sang happy birthday and he got his birthday gifts. However most of the time he got an angel food cake since my aunt is diabetic and that is the one cake she could have.

The closest I have to no presents is when my family packed up and travelled the 7 hour drive to my aunt and uncles, only for my parents to discover that they forgot to pack the bag with my presents in it. I did get gifts from other family members and was just told that Santa got confused and delivered my gifts to our house.

See, this is the sort of thing I was thinking of. Some drunk/druggie/gambling douche of a parent being so selfish as to completely spoil things for their children.

Anne-Xmas - yours is one of the stories/circumstances that I was thinking of when I wrote my OP, although to be fair it sounds more like your mom ignored your birthday as opposed to Christmas. You’ve said in other threads that your mom hates you - can this possibly be true? Do you look like her ex-husband (your dad) or something? What could a little girl possibly do to make their mom act like such a total twat? Have you ever asked? Is she just totally nuts?

Why on earth would someone have children if they were going to be such a shithead to them??

BTW - my birthday is December 10th so I’ve certainly got the ‘This gift is for your birthday AND Christmas’ line from people who expect two gifts for their separate days, but never my mom. The whole thing kind of makes me want to punch your mother in the throat.