Me and my siblings, Christmas 1971
So today brought the last of our Christmas shopping for this year. Yes, we’d procrastinated. A lot. But after we’d run around picking up gifts and checked off all names on our lists, we settled back into the car with a sigh of relief. That’s when Tanner made a comment that has stuck with me ever since. “You know, I don’t really care about presents. I want the breakfast casserole. I’d give up every gift under the tree for that.”
We’ve all heard the Grinch suggest that “maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store.” And “maybe Christmas means a little bit more. While I’ve always agreed with that philosophy, I’ve never quite thought about it like I did today. What gifts from Christmases past do I remember? Mine or the boys’. In all honesty, I couldn’t dredge up much. I remember Christmas Eve pajamas, but not a specific pair. I remember a Winnie the Pooh that belonged to me, a plastic car that belonged to my kids. My first cassette tapes (ABBA and Kenny Rogers) and player, and a horse book. I’ve always had wonderful Christmases — and 42 years of more gifts than I possibly need or deserve. But these are not what I remember about Christmas. I remember Christmas Eve pageants at church — and receiving bags of nuts, fruit and full-sized candy bars afterwards. I remember waking up Christmas morning and heading downstairs to a live, fully decorated tree that had miraculously appeared overnight, even though an artificial tree had been in place upstairs since the day after Thanksgiving. The real tree (brought by Santa) had really large, old-fashioned colored lights that grew rather hot after a while — which proved to be problematic and odorous one year when the dog had apparently peed on the tree while it was stowed outside prior to installation. Each year brought Christmas morning road trips to grampa’s house…that gave way to trips to my folks’ house after he passed away and my siblings and I had families of our own. Breakfast casseroles. Food comas. Afternoon walks or trips to the YMCA after the living room was cleaned up and breakfast dishes were put away. And so on and so forth. Those are the things that make up Christmas for us. And all of it would happen whether or not a single package was purchased or unwrapped. I suppose the real “gifts” rest in our traditions.
That being said, I’m still super happy and relieved to have the fruits of our shopping trip now wrapped and nestled under the tree. The kids and I have a few traditions of our own to uphold before the Big Day gets here…starting tomorrow. Bring it!