As a child, I could not wait for Christmas. The excitement of waking up early Christmas morning and running into the livingroom to rummage thru my stocking, look what Santa had brought me then running into my parents room, jumping on the bed waking them both and rushing them into the living room so we could rip open the presents that were under the tree, at 4:30 in the morning. Much like Ralphie and his little brother, Randy in the movie “A Christmas Story”.
Before Christmas, looking at toys in the various stores (Toys are Us was quite literally a childrens playground) trying to figure out what toys you wanted Santa to make you. Was it a train made by Lionel, a Barbie (if you are a girl) made by Mattel or new Matchbox cars. The point being, as a child you do not figure that the toys with brand names were not actually made by Santa.
Years ago, my mother told my sister and I that she wanted something hand made by us. My first hand made gift was Christmas tree ornaments of pine made on my parents scroll saw. It then became a contest on how to outdo the previous years gift. I bought knife blanks and hand carved handles for the knives then sharpened them on a wet stone. I custom engraved glass cookie jars, then made custom wood caps for four jars that would be filled with sugar, flour, brown sugar and baking flour. Then it was a custom wooden wheel barrel for her flowers. The list goes on. She still has every one of those hand made gifts these many years later. She can look at that hand crafted bread basket sitting as the center piece of her table everyday.
What does Christmas mean to you? What is the real meaning of Christmas? To Christians, it means to celebrate the birth of our savior by giving of ourselves. I like to honor that sentiment by making or buying something that someone would not buy for themselves.
Now that I am older, and hopefully wiser, I am starting to think like my mother. This year, I was asked what I wanted for Christmas. I had to think about that for a while. I had everything that I needed, I had most of what I wanted. There was nothing someone could buy me that I could not buy for myself. That got me thinking, with all the advertising going on, Christmas has become the ‘Savior’ of stores bottom line. While paying attention to commercials to try and find what I wanted, I noticed everyone had ‘the perfect Christmas gift’, from toys to ceramic characters that grow grass to new glasses and even new toilet seats that warms up. I actually was sick of those commercials come Christmas day. This year, my mother sent me a blanket that she had made. It was soft and had a pattern that matched my personality. Christmas night came and the temperature dropped to minus 15 degrees. That blanket was the perfect gift. Not only is it something that I could use, but it was something that she made for me.
That got me thinking, do I still have that little toy car, that camera that I had to have in high school, that whatchamacallit or thigamagig I absolutely had to have? Things I don’t even remember all these years later but, she still has that jewelry box I made, the wooden spoon and kitchen utensil set I hand carved, that bowl I turned on my lathe and even the pen that I made from a kit.
Now that Christmas of 2014 is in the past, and we all have to settle with the credit card company, we have a full year to prepare for Christmas of 2015. So, are you going to stand in long lines and pay all that money next year to try and help stores get out of the red while you go deeper in debt, or are you going to give of yourself. Are you going to give something that might get returned the day after Christmas, or are you going to create a memory that will last longer than that fruitcake that gets passed on year to year? I am not saying not to buy things. Your son or daughter might actually need a new tablet for school, but wouldn’t it be better to give of yourself next year? In twenty years, will that person still have and use that ‘thing’ that you stood in line after fighting that lady that you almost slapped?
I can thank my parents for all those lessons that have helped to make me who I am now, and mom, I can’t believe you still have that handprint in clay I made in kindergarten, and still hang it in the Christmas tree every year. 🙂
The Thinking Tinker