“Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free, 'Tis the gift”…. The words to that old song, written in the mid eighteen hundreds, still have a lot to say about gifts. The best gifts are thought out, simple, and freely given. What are your best gifts, and this time not family and things like that, but gifts you have received from someone?
I have always abhorred the greedy nature that gift giving can take on, especially during Christmas. I don’t understand the whole, “make a list of what you want and I’ll fill the list”, mentality. I never allowed my kids to ask for more than one thing from Santa, and I will admit I kind of steered what they ask for, towards something I knew could get for sure! They used to ask me why they could only ask for one thing when some kids had a list a mile long. I used to explain that Santa only has room in his bag for one thing for each child. That took care of that!
From Kerry and me, the kids always got about ten gifts each for Christmas. It’s the one time of the year we wanted them to have lots and lots of gifts to open. They were simple things, most of which I’d be buying over the course of the year anyway. I got things like their own packages of six little cereals for breakfast Christmas morning, (we opened our gifts Christmas Eve). They always got a new bed pillow for their beds to sleep extra good that night, a new pair of pajamas which I’d already washed so they were ready to wear to bed, a box or two with some kind of clothes, socks and underwear, their own six pack of soda (k that sounds horrible these days but I did..) and three or four toys that they really wanted. I knew what they really wanted because I spent a lot of time with them and I knew what each one really liked.
Now that the kids are grown, I try to go with a theme of some sort. One year I got them all snowboard gear and we went snowboarding. The big kids hadn’t gone skiing or snowboarding since high school Luther league and Sydney had gone quite a few times but always rented her stuff. The next year I got them all six man tents, and they have all had a good time with them. I don’t know what they need anymore, so I still like to surprise them with some experience. I usually give them several small things leading up to the big one. For example, the camping year first they all got flashlights, camping forks, tent lights and several other little things moving up to a couple sleeping bags and the tent was the grand finale ha... They loved it! No one asks for any of it, or had any idea what they were getting, but they all loved it. This year they already know they are getting a cruise to the Bahamas! I just told Kerry last night the reason we got it so cheap was probably because October is hurricane season! I didn’t do my homework there. So hopefully that won’t happen.
Some of my favorite gifts I have gotten have been a walking doll with blue frosted haired when I was ten from my parents. My horse Cowboy Clark from my Dad when I was eleven which was a total surprise!
Probably one of the most unusual Christmas gifts I got from Mom was her own jewelry she bought herself as a souvenir from Hawaii. She’d already worn them for about ten years. We didn’t know the extent of her Alzheimer’s and she gave me her coral/silver earrings complete with ear gunk from her ears still on them! I looked at my sister Kathy, like what in the heck? Then Kathy opened hers and got a similar turquoise set. We talked about it later, and wondered what was she thinking? Did she think she bought them for us and really forget she wore them for ten years? Is she worried about spending money at Christmas and knew they were hers? We hated to take them even. What was going on in her mind we wondered? These days I can’t bring myself to wear those earrings in case I lose them, because I realize now, it was the beginning of the end for Mom.
Kerry gave me a wooden paper towel rack once and I didn’t even know what it was...I still have it sitting by my toaster. It has traveled with me because he put thought into that. Not the most romantic thing but something we needed when we didn’t have a lot of money to spend on Christmas. My other favorite gift from Kerry was a new Bible one year. I was struggling with depression and he got me the newest version of the bible to replace my old King James with Elvis glued in the cover. Kerry wrote a whole page in the front cover about hoping it helps.
When Brendon was in about the third grade he and I went to Minot with my friend and her son, who was his friend. The boys went shopping for us and we sat under the big clock in the center of the mall where we could watch the boys going from store to store. Brendon chose the prettiest black tiger eyes earrings for that Christmas Eve, and I still can see him in the jewelry store buying them. When Brendon was sixteen he got his first job at Kings Food Host as a bus boy. For my birthday he bought me a hundred something dollar stereo for my birthday, which I kept for years long after it stopped working. I loved the stereo but the generosity he showed meant so much, because at sixteen you sometimes wonder if the kids even like you at all.
Shelbey always bought me crystal from Home of Economy when Mom took her shopping for me when she was young. She would get in the store and be taken in by the crystal under the store lights. Another year she chose a gemstone bracelet from Penney’s and got the other kids to go in on the purchase. I saved it and she wanted me to wear it = so I did one day. We stopped to get gas. I was out pumping the gas and she was sitting in the car on the passenger side. I forgot about the step up cement block, and right in the middle of a sentence to her, I tripped and fell. I slapped my wrist down on the pavement about ninety miles an hour bending all the prongs and messing up the bracelet! She couldn’t stop laughing because I was there one minute and out of sight on the ground the next! Just call me Grace! Last year she sent me flowers in Minot after a rough time with Kerry and shocked me but good!
Sydney loves to get me Brighton’s jewelry. I love each one she has gotten me. The girls got me an angel necklace and earrings from there when I had my hysterectomy. Because Sydney is with me a lot yet, she pays attention to what I am into at the time and gets me that. I got a pretty pink and blue necklace from Target that she saw me admire once and went back and got it. I’m still a jewelry freak, even though I make it now.
My favorite gift from Marcy was my scrapbook she made for my fiftieth birthday. Where she found time to make a big fat scrapbook while babysitting her Grandkids at the same time I have no idea! My favorite gift from Kathy was all the children’s books she and her family gave me last year. Although the Dept. 56 Halloween houses she gets me I love too.
Gifts are not about the expense of them, it’s about the thought put into them and whether it’s freely given from the heart. “Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free, 'Tis the gift”….