Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent Calendar - December 10 - Christmas Gifts

What were your favorite gifts, both to receive and to give? Are there specific gift-giving traditions among your family or ancestors?

Growing up, Santa always made sure that my sister and I received dozens of gifts each and every year. I cannot remember a single year as a child that I did not receive every single item I had asked Santa to bring me! I know it must have driven Mama half mad with our lengthy requests for Chatty Cathy’s, roller skates, Nurse Belle’s, Easy Bake ovens, Chutes and Ladders, and the list could go on and on for days!

So, what were my favorite gifts to receive?

This is probably going to sound silly, but I always loved receiving homemade gifts! My Grandma Dreher often crocheted me things like scarves, vests, and caps. Mama once made my sister and I organizers to hang on our bedroom wall to hold things like makeup, hairbrushes, etc. Mama learned to crochet and soon the list of homemade gifts became endless from her as well! There were bedspreads, and afghans, and pillows. Headbands, and purses, and jewelry organizers. And I must have had a dozen friends, or more, who gave gifts from the kitchen! There were cookies, and fudge, and candies, and cakes, and pies! Yummy!!!

And what were my favorite gifts to give?
I always relished giving gifts to those who would have received nothing for Christmas if not for us thinking of them. The down and out, those who had no jobs, or income. The children whose parents were ill. Or the homeless.

One of the traditions that Mama made sure we not only started, but kept all through our growing up years, was to take our old toys, each year before Christmas, to the local fire department. There they would be cleaned up, and made to look like sparking new. And they would be distributed to children who would have otherwise received no toys for the holiday. It was our way of giving back. It seemed that each year our car would be filled to the brim with box after box of the toys we had either outgrown, or received the year before and no longer played with. It was a tradition I loved! And still do!

I no longer have toys to recycle for those in need, but each year I purchase several new toys and distribute them to the organization Toys for Tots, where they will be given to young boys and girls who may otherwise have received nothing under their tree. I don’t have a lot to give, but the little I can makes me feel so very happy! Out of my little comes a ray of sunshine for some child, somewhere!

I don’t suppose there are any specific gift-giving traditions of my ancestors, or if there were, I have never heard of them!

This year, my siblings and I are starting a new tradition amongst our family. None of us have a need or desire for any thing new this year. We are simple people, content with what the Lord has blessed us with. So, instead of exchanging gifts this Christmas, we have decided to spend an “old fashioned Christmas” together. Where we will be spending the day with lots of fantastic food, reading of the Scriptures and telling the story of the birth of our Lord, and singing carols together [yep, the ol’ Texicanwife will be playing her little keyboard to accompany the singing!]. We will be celebrating a time of family and togetherness, this Christmas. We are blessed with all of our wants and needs met, but there is never enough time for family these days. This is one year that family is the best gift of all!

I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas, and pray that you make family the priority in your celebration as well. Gifts are nice, it’s true, but gifts are only things that are here today but soon gone. Family, as we know from researching genealogy, are the memories that last not only lifetimes, but an eternity!

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