When you’re little, the main focus for Christmas will always be presents. I don’t care how many times it’s drilled into your head to give, to appreciate what you have, to pay tribute to what Christmas really means (which is different for everyone). All of this advice and tutelage seems to float into the back corners of your brain, and all that’s visable are wrapped gifts under the tree. Large ones (these give children the most to celebrate). Small ones (you never know what could be hiding inside a tiny box).
When I was a child, I didn’t pay much thought to gift giving, beyond receiving. I wouldn’t say I was a greedy person. But I was thrilled to receive a present, and loved the surprise element to it.
At 14, I was working as a part time babysitter, earning money after school and on weekends. I was also assisting someone in delivering newspapers at 5 in the morning. It took a lot of effort on my part to wake up that early, and get myself out the door when it was still dark out. But, I was getting paid for that too, and it felt good to earn my keep.
It was the first year I could afford to buy presents. I wanted to play the grown up game. I didn’t want to simply be a child receiving, but an adult who was giving.
My Aunt Vicky was an incredibly cool chick with an undeniably free spirit. She’d come visit us every year at Christmas, traveling via Amtrak train from California. We were pen pals, writing letters often to each other. I always wanted to be as amazing as my Aunt Vicky.
I bought a pair of earrings for my Aunt Vicky. When she opened her present from me, she gasped and held them up, showcasing them to the rest of the family. Maybe she was overcompensating, to make me feel better. Yet, there were genuine tears in her eyes as she thanked me. I will never forget how good I felt that day, seeing the joy on her face as she immediately went to try them on. That feeling never left me, and it was a pivotal point in my life. I stopped caring about what I received, and relished in the giving.
I still feel this way to this day, and I get to experience it tenfold with my children. I love seeing their eyes light up, or the softness as they hold something they cherish. With my oldest, I am working on allowing him the opportunity to experience how great it feels to give, even at his age, by making donations and explaining to him how there are kids out there who are in need, and if we are able to help, why not? He has made fantastic gifts, like ornaments and picture frames, and I cherish them and plan to hold onto them for years to come.
I’ve also come to realize that it’s not how much you spend, or even if you spend. It really is the thought that counts. A simple Holiday card lets someone know you are thinking of them. Making someone a batch of cookies never fails. You do the best you can with you’re given, and it’s more than enough!
I hope and pray that each and every one of you has a blessed Christmas, and get to make your own fantastic holiday memories this year.