Photo Courtesy of Victoria Magazine
Just like you, I have surrounded myself this past week with rolls of wrapping paper, scotch tape, ribbons and layers of tissue paper as I have carefully and lovingly wrapped Christmas presents for my family and friends.
Some of the presents made me smile for they brought back how I felt when I found the particular item and how I immediately knew it was the right gift. Score!
But as I came to the presents that I had bought for my parents they seemed woefully inadequate.
My parents are now in their eighties and at this point in their lives they have pretty much everything they could ever need in terms of material things so it is difficult to find something for them that will surprise them or take their breath away. I know. I know. I could have made something. But what would that something be?
While I taped the paper around each of their gifts, my mind started to wander and think about other Christmases in the past; especially the innocent and precious Christmases from childhood.
My parents have always gone overboard for Christmas. They can’t help it. It is part of their DNA. They love celebrations, parties and any kind of event where the whole family can gather together and hang out.
There are the Christmases of my early childhood where the Johnnie Mathis Christmas album was played almost as much as the Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters Christmas album. Those Christmases are so tender to me. I really can bring them back if I close my eyes and think about it enough. Happy does not even come close to describing how I felt during those Christmases.
My father would especially make a big deal out of Christmas for my mother. I can’t remember how many years he did this but after the six of us opened our presents our Dad would quietly go into another room and then walk back in with a big flourish, carrying a pyramid of presents all stacked up according to size and wrapped beautifully to give to our Mom.
Those Christmases were all very special but the whole present wrapping process made me start thinking about the other kinds of gifts to give my loved ones that can’t be bought; gifts that in some ways mean so much more than something bought from a store.
Gifts that require something from me such as the gift of my time.
If only we could buy time in a store for time itself is such a valuable gift.
When you are young you cannot wait to rip open your presents and play with them immediately. It’s all about finally having something that you have been wishing for and wanting for months.
But as I have grown older I have discovered something I didn’t expect: that the joy of most material gifts is temporary.
Either the gift breaks or fades and sometimes it can even fall apart.
Not so with the gift of time. It is selfless and therefore priceless. You are putting other things aside and giving of yourself to someone else. Whether you are cooking a meal for someone or doing yard work for them or listening to their thoughts as they try to form them, the gift of time is what creates a connection to your loved one.
The gift of time creates memories that will forever live deep in your soul. Some of those memories can be rather sad as in watching a loved one grow older but others of them can also make you laugh as in listening to your parents describe or be irreverent about something in only a way that they can.
My hope for this Christmas is that after all of the presents have been opened and put them away, that my parents know that the gift of time is constantly being given to them by me and the rest of my siblings and that when we spend our time with them we am showing them just how important they are to us and how much we truly love them.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah my friends and I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday!