On Christmas, they weren't given gifts, they were to expensive, they usually celebrated Christmas, about a week after December when good bows and wrapping paper were thrown way and Christmas trees were discarded on the roadside. Mary would give her children a bag of marbles or a doll or a slingshot that had been marked down in an after-Christmas sale. This particular Christmas, Rex lost his job, and there was no money, so he took each of his kids into the desert night, wrapped in blankets, when it was Jeannette's turn, he sat next to her and talked about the stars. He told her to pick out her favorite star, he told her for her Christmas present she could keep any star that she liked, Jeannette found one, in the west above the mountains but low in the sky, that shone more brightly than all the rest. Rex told her that's Venus, it was only a planet, and a pretty dinky one compared to stars. Jeannette wanted it anyway. Her dad said, "What the hell, "It's Christmas. You can have a planet if you want it.
And he gave her Venus.
I loved reading this story of triumph againist all odds, but it was also a tender moving story of unconditional love in a family that despite it's profound flaws gave Jeannette Walls the determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.