In the past, I started Christmas shopping in September and finished on Christmas Eve with the intention of spreading the cost over a period of months. I love to choose gifts, matching the gift to the person. I will never add up the total I previously spent on gifts because it was a passion and a hobby. So much love, care and thought went into the choosing of each gift and I received so much enjoyment. As someone who can never say a positive without adding a downside and one who suffers from foot in mouth disease, this was the one area where I conveyed my love with the hope that each gift represented my understanding of who they were and what they enjoyed without saying a word. My mother and I share this love of gift buying and I will be forever humbled by her spirit.
Over the years, our grandchildren would be overwhelmed by all the gifts to the point of their eyes glazing over with the realization of another gift. Their mothers were burdened with too many phone calls asking too many questions, the end result would always be and still is, “They will like anything you get them.” I saw looks of confusion as if thinking, “What is this?” or “Why this?” but that only dismayed me for a moment because there were “Wow”s” and “I love this.” to offset the disappointment. Some gifts seemed like a good idea at the time and even I questioned their usefulness but that was often part of the fun. An example is the recipe journal I gave our youngest daughter for committing her favorite recipes to paper in order to hand down the book down to her daughter. She seemed to think it was a good idea but now she has two daughters. Oh well, it was the thought.
The most disappointment Danny and I ever got was when we bought our first grandson a yellow Hummer bicycle. We loved the bike much more than he did and he rode it no more than 3 times. What we realized later was that his legs were too short for it making him even more self-conscious of his small stature. His younger brother eventually ended up riding it and I’m not sure if it ended up being pawned or whether his brother has it. You win some and you lose some.
As my wise mother told me, you have to draw a line somewhere when your family starts growing and it can make you sad. So I cut back over the past few years discovering that the grown children enjoyed the stockings as much as the actual gifts. The stockings were often as elaborate as the gifts containing luxury underwear and stylish warm pj’s, C.D.’s and colognes for the men and always bath gels that never failed to earn the comment, “Someone must think I need this.” Then last year, we moved to Colorado which sucked up our Christmas money. We made do with buying Colorado t-shirts for the grandchildren and Colorado bumper stickers for the adults. It was the best we could do and it hurt me but that was when I realized that the time had come to draw the line.
This year, we moved for the third time in a year and we also have limited income so I shopped Wal-Mart thinking I could have them picked up from our adult children’s local stores. What I discovered was that the great deals I was able to get locally did not apply online. I still chose each inexpensive gift for each grandchild with care and minimal phone calls and didn’t break the bank. When it came to our adult children which always includes our son and daughter-in-laws as they have become as much our children as if we birthed them (honestly, I didn’t birth any of them yet I am as grateful for the gift of them as if I did), we stood up to the challenge with couple gifts that were not expensive but thoughtfully chosen. Their dadd (not a typo) chose each with the love and attention that is normally reserved for me. Though they are the same, they are different based on the individuals.
I have been influenced by Danny’s philosophy which is to buy gifts with the person in mind not the cost incurred, high or low. His gifts say, “I thought of you.” no matter how large or small a gift. What that says to me is that it doesn’t matter how little we have to spend, we will give our gifts in love.
We have all received gifts from that person who is so pleased with their choice yet the gift makes you want to shake your head in wonder. This year, think about the joy it gave to that person when they believed they were choosing the perfect gift for you, no different from the gifts your children made in school, and feel the love.