My mom is the third of eight children. Daughter of a very hard working fisherman. There was never any money. Ever.
The family was lucky to have food on the table. Anything else--be it toys or proper clothing--was considered great fortune. The only doll my mother remembers having was a sack of onions she packed around, wrapped in some scrap of fabric for a 'blankie'. With 10 mouths to feed, Dolly didn't last long.
Many Christmases my mom and her siblings each had a small present only because of local charity. The children didn't bother with any notion of a man called Santa Clause. A fact which slayed their father.
One very cold December when my mom was seven, the second grade teacher took Mom over her knee and spanked her (way back in the day when teacher meted corporal punishment was commonplace : ) for not wearing her snow boots to school in such miserable weather. It was only after the spanking that my mom had the chance to admit, with red hot shame, that she didn't wear her snow boots because she had none.
The teacher was taken aback. Of course she was.
A few days later on Christmas morning, inexplicably, at least to my mom's 7-year-old comprehension, in addition to the annual Benevolence League donation of candy, there was a pair of warm winter boots in bright wrapping just for her.
It was a hard time in a poor fishing town. Lots of families went without things that you and I would consider barbaric to live without today. No doubt that teacher had a dozen students, or more, with some pretty hard luck stories and on a teacher's salary she couldn't have fixed everything for them. But God bless her soul for having tried.