It’s been a very long time since I wanted a “gift” for Christmas. For years my focus has been on buying to right gifts for everyone on my list. My gift was seeing their faces when they opened their boxes and got what they wanted or were surprised and excited about what I picked out for them. That has been enough of a gift for me.
I was thinking back on all my previous Christmases this morning. A lot of preparation that goes into this holiday: the shopping, the cooking, the baking, the cleaning, the wrapping, the decorating…we get so focused on all of that so much so that we lose focus of the real meaning of Christmas Day, the birth of Jesus. On top of that, we are so focused on all the things we need to do that, as mothers, we hardly have time to appreciate our loved ones.
After I had the girls, we had Christmas at our house, so they could play with their new toys and everyone could enjoy them. My parents and my in-laws came for dinner. We were up early and watched the girls open their presents. The rest of the day I was in and out of the kitchen cooking and getting rid of dirty dishes. Even though I tried to prepare as many things ahead of time as possible, it was exhausting trying to get everything on the table while it was all still hot, clearing the table, washing the dishes, then preparing for dessert and coffee. The day always went so fast and by the end of it, when everyone went home, I was dead tired. I really hadn’t been able to sit down and enjoy the day with everyone else, but my satisfaction came from knowing I had given them all a gift they may have taken for granted…memories. I wanted my children to have happy memories of their childhood, surrounded by family, the way I remembered my Christmases. I’m not even sure if they still remember those Christmases. I like to think they do.
I tried to instill the Christmas spirit in my girls from when they were very little. Every year I would sit with them and we would make “gifts” for everyone and wrap them up. I wanted them to get the idea that the best gifts were the ones that came from the heart, not the store. In today’s world that’s not so easy to do. How can a macaroni frame compete with an ipod?
As the girls got older and wiser, making gifts was not an option. Instead we focused on finding just the right gift for everyone, so that some real thought went into it. The grandparents never needed anything. So we decided that every year we would make a gift basket filled with all kinds of snacks they wouldn’t buy for themselves. My mother loved pignoli cookies (pine nuts) which were very expensive, about $16 a pound. We would buy her a pound of those every year. I also got her shrimp. She would not buy it for herself and my father. About a week before Christmas I would drop off a pound or more of jumbo shrimp. Of course I would get yelled at for wasting money while she took the bag from me and started the cleaning process. But that’s just my mother, she has to yell about the price of everything. But, I knew they would appreciate these delicacies more than any robe or sweater. It’s not that they couldn’t buy them for themselves, it’s that they wouldn’t buy them for themselves. My mom always had the idea that she had to get bargains when she shopped and also she wanted to leave us as much money as possible, so she denied herself many things in her lifetime for those two reasons. It was impossible to change her thinking so I finally found a way around it.
I don’t have many people to shop for any more. My husband rarely wants or needs anything, still we try to get him a little something. Of course, I have my two girls, who never want anything so it’s up to me to hound them till they do. My brother is a whole other blog. Every year I have been buying him new clothes because he generally likes to dress nice when he goes out. This has been going on for a very long time. I have gotten him shirts, pants, jeans, belts, gloves, sweaters, sweat shirts and sweat pants, jackets, socks, slippers, pajamas…and lots of them. Yet, when he comes over every Sunday he wears the oldest, most worn out stuff he has in his closet. It drives me crazy! I know he has stuff in hanging in his closet with tags on them. And still he refuses to get rid of these old clothes no matter how many new outfits I have given him. Mind you his birthday is in February and he gets even more for that. Anyway, I just have four people to shop for and try to please, and since none of them want or need anything, it’s not so easy.
Last week we managed to get a little something for my husband and my brother too. My husband loves to read and we found two books we hope he will enjoy. My brother is getting a more clothes. I can’t say what it is right now because with my luck the first time he reads my blog it will be this one. I got the girls a few things each, but didn’t succeed with the “big” surprise gift. Maybe next year.
I hope you all get the gifts you want this year. But, in the middle of all the confusion and chaos, take a few minutes here and there to enjoy your family and the smiles on their faces and know that you are giving them memories that will live in their hearts for years to come.