My Christmas Family Tradition


My twin and I holding dolls created by mama


Earlier this semester I was given a speech assignment telling the class of my family’s tradition. Over and over I thought, what could I say? We never had enough money to celebrate like other families.

Some comments were made in a bragging tone about how a certain someone does not give to the homeless. These comments were made with no regard to students who may have or currently experiencing homelessness. Because of what my family and I went through, I took the statements hard and cried. I didn’t want to go to that class anymore. I spoke with many people about this issue. I was told to fire back with my pain and experience; I was encouraged to use what happened to me in my speech. This is my response to those comments:

“Good Evening everyone. Tonight I will be talking about my family’s Christmas tradition. According to the United States Census Bureau, in 1994, the year I was born, there were 8,053 families below the poverty line. In 2000, at the age of 6, there were 6,400 families below the poverty line. And finally, in 2004 at the age of 10, the number of families living below the poverty line was 7,835. This is important because among the many families who were below the poverty line in these years, was my own.

Many of you may be asking how this relates to my family tradition, and to answer the many silent questions, it relates because many poor families spend their Christmases without gifts, a tree, and even the basics like food. Despite all of this, my mother still managed to make sure we had the best Christmas we possibly could.

On Christmas day, many families exchange gifts, and the children, who are sometimes unappreciative, open gift after gift. We didn’t always have what other children had, such as the name brand clothes, high-tech toys…etc. But mama always made a way out of no way. My mother was very creative. Using her yarn kit, she made dolls, and even the clothes they had on. They were so pretty, and many kids wanted one. She made one for us every year. It’s something I will never forget.

Sometimes we couldn’t even afford a Christmas tree. It was between buying food and a tree; of course, the food won. However, with my mother’s creativity, she managed to create the sense of a tree for her children. She gathered sheets of paper, taped them to the wall, and drew a tree on it., She bought these shiny stickers from the dollar store and stuck them on like Christmas balls. It was so pretty, and it glowed in the dark. We didn’t have a real tree, but it was the best tree around. I strongly feel, in a good way, that no one celebrated Christmas like my family did.

What is a tradition? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a tradition as the stories, beliefs, and I want to add the activities that have been part of a culture for a long time. My family’s tradition involved my mother using her creativity to put a smile on her children’s faces.

Thank you.” -Ashley Strange | Public Speaking Class

I just thought I should share this since Christmas is near. Even when we had no money, no food, ,and little clothes, because of my mother’s creativity, we never felt like we lacked anything. As we got older, reality hit us. But, we appreciated whatever we could get. I would give anything to have those days back with my mother.

Merry Christmas!




Historical Poverty Tables: People and Families – 1959 to 2015 2016. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Tradition | Definition of Tradition by Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Retrieved from


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