Christmas! The very word brings about a flood of warmth and emotion to many people. But there are many people out there who wonder where the true spirit of Christmas has gone.
I’ve been talking to a few of them and they make good sense, what has happened to the old-fashioned Christmas. The one that truly meant Peace and Goodwill to all Men.
Some of the questions we need to ask ourselves, as once again we fall into the monster that has become Christmas are: What is a gift? Why must we wait until that one day on the calendar to express love for each other? Do we really need to break our bank accounts to show love? Is bigger and more expensive better?
In days gone by, a simple homemade gift from your parents was the most exciting thing in the world. I could always count on my grandma Hazel for a pair of knitted mitts. My grandma Ellen, who wasn’t much of a crafts person or a cook, gave us the gift of her time. She made her home a happy place to be at Christmas and made decorating the Christmas tree a gift to us kids each year. The tree never changed at grandma’s house.
The same decorations went on it year after year, and as each one went on there was a story that went with it. The one that sticks out most was the face of a cardboard Santa. Each year as it went on the tree, Grandma would tell us of the letter that my dad sent home from overseas during World War II, describing what the tree at home would look like and how much he would miss them.
The letter included this cardboard Santa face on a string, like a large flat ornament.
My cousin Sharon was given the task of decorating the tree, a responsibility that she took very seriously and our many Charlie Brown Christmas trees at Grandma’s house were the most beautiful we had ever seen!
Many Christmas’ were spent with all my cousins around. My dad’s sister Aline lived in Calgary, and she often brought her three sons “home” for Christmas and my dad’s sister Shirley had seven children who lived nearby.
During the Christmas holiday it was not uncommon for there to be 7 or 8 of us having a sleepover at Grandma’s house. We slept on the floor under the kitchen table, on two kitchen chairs side by side, in the big chairs in the living room pushed together, on the couch, wherever there was a spot. What a bunch of bandits we were! We felt really fortunate to always have someone to play with!
The Christmas dinners that my mother has prepared for us over the years are what really stick out as precious gifts. She went out of her way to make sure that everyone’s favorite food was on the table, whether it was Christmasy or not. Many times we only received a small gift at Christmas because she had a memory gift in mind for us.
Like a trip to see the ice capades, or the Calgary tower. They didn’t come under the tree in a big box but they will stay in our hearts and memories long after the boxed gifts are broken or forgotten.
Each of us has talents that have been given to us as a gift to share. Why is it that we find it so hard to give of ourselves?
Is it because we’re worried that with no price tag attached, we believe our gift will be thought less of? Could a gift be as simple as babysitting for a friend so that they could spend an evening at the movies, or plowing their driveway, or helping them paint their kitchen? And as receivers of time gifts, do we ever really appreciate it with a proper thank you?
One Christmas, when our son, Patrick, was about seven years old, he was shopping with his $20. From this he had to buy a gift for his dad, one for me and one for his sister. On the street in front of Tru Value, he found a bag with a necklace in it.
We told him how fortunate he was to have come across it lying there. He thought about it for about seven seconds, maximum, and then said, “Let’s take it to the police station, maybe whoever bought it can’t afford to get another one, and it will ruin their Christmas.”
We got a call that evening to say that the necklace had been claimed by a grateful 12 year-old. In turning that necklace in, Patrick gave many gifts but he gave himself the greatest gift, the special feeling he got from making others happy.
I have been very fortunate, blessed actually, to have had so many memory gifts given to me this year. From a simple hello on the street to a grateful thank you, or a quick coffee with family and friends! Thank you all for making this year a most memorable one for me! Merry Christmas!