Christmas – Now What Did You Learn?

Memories of Christmas –

Christmas is the time of year associated with giving and sharing and caring more than a person normally does. When you are a child it is usually fun and exciting. When you are grown you start to think of all the gifts you have to buy in order to full cousin Sarah’s wish that all 6 of her children get a gift. I get it. NOW.

Growing up I didn’t understand a whole lot about why we exchanged gifts. I knew there wasn’t a Santa Clause for two solid reasons. The first was a late December morning when my family was returning from Church. We saw 3 different Santa’s in less than 10 minutes and they were 3 different ethnicities. We were gullible as children, but not that gullible.

Probably the next Christmas Eve or so we woke up a bit too early and saw the front door opened. We didn’t say a word. Quietly and efficiently we saw our parents return with gifts and place them under the tree. The gifts were hidden in the trunk of the car. GENIUS. But where did they come from?

Being under ten years old you can only accumulate money when you do odd jobs or chores, or possibly even allowance. I saved my collectoion of the aforementioned and it totaled somewhere around 15 bucks. I had 5 gifts to buy and it was possible. It was the 80’s by the way, so prices were a bit cheaper. We all went to the local mall and I bought stickers, a toy, and tourist shirts that were buy one get one free. I was left with roughly some crumpled up singles and a pocketful of change. My mother was the only one that still needed a gift from me that I could crumple and throw in my bag. My brother and I walked into a cheap jewelry store and was quickly persuaded into buying some cheap earrings that were gold. Yeah.. gold earrings being sold to a kiddo for the rest of his money. I cant blame them.

Christmas morning came and around 9am we all were awake and heading to the tree. The novelty of waking up as early as possible was slowing fading each year. We all exchanged gifts and hugged each other as we opened gifts and enjoyed the moment. After a while I looked at all the unwrapped gifts and trash everywhere and soon realized I hadn’t given my mother her gift. I grabbed the hand-sized package and gave it to my mother and watched her open it with fake astonishment that would appease any kiddo on this day. She smiled and hugged and kissed me and made my day as she acted as if they were the best gift ever; a pair of gaudy cheap earrings.

When clean up came around all of us did our share and in a matter of seconds the room was spotless. Tradition would say that we needed to go to our relatives house to be with other family and friends. As we were about to leave I overheard my mother asking my father about earring choices. Me, being naïve, said “Why don’t you wear the earrings I got you?”. Acknowledging my request she hesitantly began to look for the earrings so she could make her youngest son happy. After an honest search she looked somewhat shaken. There was a slight delay and then she said, “I’m sorry, but I think I must’ve thrown them away.”

I bugged my mom about it and made sure her gifts weren’t thrown away for the next few years. Of course the gifts got better each year. We laughed about it each time and I am sure we will laugh about it now.

It took me a while to understand that giving what you can is making a sacrifice in order to make someone happy. Whether or not they return it to the store, re-gift it, or just plain throw it away, it doesn’t really matter. In the end, the Christmas season is for you to learn how to give and not expect something in return. You never know, the earrings you buy today could be a memory we laugh about 25 years later.

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