Real gifts aren’t from the mall….

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My mom and dad have been divorced almost all of my life, and have rarely agreed on anything, but the one thing they have always agreed upon is that I (their first born diva) tend to have champagne taste and a beer budget. That truth is always painfully obvious around the holidays. Especially this year.  Doubling the size of our family in such a drastic way definitely cut the budget. It would take a major act of deficit spending to pull off anything special this year, and unfortunately, the privileges of Congress don’t extend to this household. We learned our lesson the hard way, twice before it really sank in, so there is no plastic to float us through this month- no deficit spending for this girl!

Every year my dream is to fill the wish lists crafted by my little ones, and I always get wrapped up in the stress of thinking I haven’t done enough. Yesterday, my procrastination-induced shopping frenzy inescapably occurred, and once and for all, things were different! I walked through 5 or 6 stores before I made a single purchase.  I finally got it through my thick head that with or without grand presents, my children are blessed. Our family is blessed.  I resisted the urge to waste my money on countless toys that would never convey the true spirit of the season.

Now, I can’t lie, I bought some toys! I love to see a house full of happy kids tearing into packages, but I didn’t aim to make my living room into Disneyland. Instead, I tried to pick out some meaningful gifts that I felt would truly be the top of the wish lists!  I couldn’t help but spend a lot of time in my reflections…. thinking of my grandpa. He has been gone for 8 years and his absence still leaves a lump in my throat that I can barely swallow. If my grandpa were here, I know I could count on him to come on Christmas Eve, to read us the Christmas story, to sprinkle his jokes between the stories, and to tell us of the Christmases of old- when our family gathered in joyful celebration of the birth of our savior. He would rekindle my few memories of my Aunt Bonnie, and her big birthday parties for Jesus. If my grandpa were here, he’d have a gift not from the mall, but from the heart.

Cell Phone pic, not the greatest, but this was a real advertisement, and it was my great-grandfather's shop, and his cars! At the time, it was his old car, and his new car!!

He used to give me the kind of gifts that spoke volumes of his love for me.  Some of my favorite gifts were things I had admired from his house… like the paintings that hang above my couch with hidden pictures, or the Champion Spark Plugs advertisement that my great grandfather starred in.

When I look around my home, and I see the things I admired as a child, I am reminded that I was his most special birthday gift ever! (I was born on his 40th birthday, something I will cherish all my days!) If my grandpa were here, he would remind me of his affections for me. He would remind us all that Christmas brings us the celebration of the greatest gift life has ever offered- LOVE!

So today, I am not worried about the things I didn’t come back from the mall with. Instead, I am gonna focus on a few gifts from the heart. I am gonna sit down, with my little zoo crew, and decorate Christmas cookies the way I used to do.  I am going to marvel in the amazing miraculous Christmas mornings my parents created through the years. I am going to tell my Children the story, the one they have heard a thousand times, about the year that I saw Santa Claus (yes, he really does exist, in exactly the way my mother told me). And then by the time we have done all of that, it will be night again, and we will load the car, and drive around town, and see the lights, and feel the sparkles of magic that only Christmas can bring!

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