Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmases Past and Present

A news program earlier this morning reported that the average American family spends $800 per person at Christmas. Did I hear that correctly? I must have because I heard my husband's voice from the other room scoffing, "Not in THIS house". We have never been big spenders at Christmas or otherwise. This report reminded me of Christmases past......

My husband and I  are both children of farmers and come from large families. It was also a time when relatives all  lived nearby. My childhood Christmas would begin with falling asleep at Midnight Mass and awakening to a stocking filled with goodies laid across the foot of the bed. Instead of the traditional red and white Christmas stockings, my mother used her support hose. I know that sounds odd, but they stretched and were filled with goodies! There was always an apple or orange in the toe and a Roman Candle sticking out of the top. In between were little games, assorted nuts and all kinds of little things. After we  went through the stockings, it was straight to the Christmas tree. Every year mother would build a Christmas village, which was set atop a mountain made of brown paper sprayed with snow. The village was hardly visible on Christmas morning. We were a big family and she liked to do it up with gifts. It's also possible that I couldn't see the village because I was a little kid, however it seemed the tree was surrounded by mountains of gifts. Before long, there was torn gift wrapping all over the place and we were ready to go to Grandma's. After all, there would be more presents there!

After visiting and having our fill of special holiday food, it was the kid's favorite time of the evening-PRESENTS! Now both grandmothers also had big families so there were plenty of aunts, uncles and cousins and the cousins increased yearly. My maternal grandmother always gave us a book of Lifesaver candies. I could go for that. After all, it was candy! My paternal grandmother, without fail, gave us underwear or socks. What kind of Christmas gift was THAT? She never commented that she wished she could have given more. We were just handed the undies, all wrapped up like a real gift.

And that brings me to what inspired this post. As I reflect back, those gift of socks or undies were gifts spun into gold. They weren't gifts that were to be played with and tossed aside as most gifts were. They were gifts given with love, intended to be used daily and helped keep us clean and warm. They were practical gifts bought with hard earned money. They were gifts that turned into life lessons. I wonder if she ever considered they would be more appreciated 50+ years after they were given and many years after she would be gone. 

We now have three daughters and five grandchildren of our own and while our gifts may not be socks or underwear, they are simple and practical. And we are content to think that maybe 50 years from now, they will realize that a true gift was given.