19 November 2007

When Christmas meant something


When I was a kid every Labor Day weekend, my mom would pack all four of her children into the car and head to Leewards in Elgin, Illinois, a craft store that I believe no longer exists. It was yesteryears version of today’s Michaels, I guess.

It all began after my Dad died, and my mom had to some how make the money she was getting from social security stretch. Her goal was to teach us that we cannot expect to get things without giving also. And Christmas was the prime example of her thinking.

So, all four of us would buy (though she paid for them) an unmade ornament, one for our grandparents, one for our aunt and uncle and one for her. And we would have, essentially, from Labor Day on to make them up and have them ready for Christmas Eve (which is when my family exchanged presents. Then on Christmas Day, we would all get together for a big dinner, usually wearing what we got the previous night).

Gosh, none of us had those things done early. All four of us were usually struggling to get them finished, some just being done Christmas Eve morning. My older brother generally tried to get the more complex ones, while I tried to get the pretty ones (so gay then). My older sister seemed to go the same way, while my younger sister tried to be like the oldest; more complex.

Then, when my family members opened them, they would oh and ah over them like it was the best present they ever got. Which was the point. I never understood why they liked them so much, until my nieces and nephews started doing the same thing. I treasure those gifts, the time and the love that went into them, more any other thing I’ve gotten then and since.

To me, that is what Christmas represents. It’s not about giving the most expensive present to someone and hoping they gave you something equal or more. It’s about the love that went into the gift. I mean, for me, no love what so ever goes into a pair of expensive jeans of an iPod.

Making someone something, even something like an ornament, does not say you’re cheap. I think it means you love the person very much. And when I say that, it’s because my family still has everyone of those ornaments. Every damn one of them.

Some are 30 years old, but they’re on their trees every year. Can’t say that about those parachute pants.

1 comment:

Rick (rpike20625) said...

Very nice story. I think you've captured more about the meaning of Christmas than a lot of these loud-mouthed "the war on Christmas" idiots.

Thanks for sharing it.