My earliest memory of Christmas was walking down a long flight of wide stairs in a small department store to select a little gift for my Mum. I was perhaps five and chose a tiny, green ceramic Dutch shoe. I was thrilled with my little gift and eager to see my Mum open it.
I do not remember what she said or did, but I remember the feeling that she had received the best gift ever. The little shoe belongs to me now and still warms my memory.
I was seven when Christmas involved a cowgirl outfit - boots and all! Up until that year, I am told it was the boxes - not whatever was in them - that drew my attention. I was photographed under the tree wearing that cowgirl outfit. It remains my favorite photo of me.
A secondary memory is driving from one relative's home to another, with two clans to visit on Christmas Eve. I took it for granted in those early years. Now I'd give up all gifts to be able to visit with those wonderful people again.
evolved to become
the joy that is
so much more important
I had no idea that my greatest gift of all would arrive in the April following my cowgirl outfit. My sister has grown on me ever since and shown me that people are the real gifts.
We give each other gifts now whenever we find the perfect gift - usually very small but perfect for the other - given at the time it is discovered! The Spirit of Christmas trumps the Day of Christmas.
By high school, I was babysitting, which I did not love, and working at the local newspaper, which I did love. Earning my own money let me buy fanciful gifts instead of practical and not feel guilty.
By the time I was a poor college student, I had next to nothing to spend for Christmas gifts. But, in my sophomore year, a friend handed me a small denomination bill and said simply, "Because I have it and you do not." That money allowed me to buy several gifts I could not otherwise have given. And it taught me the joy of charity.
Children and Grandchildren
Children and grandchildren brought new levels of joy in giving. I went over-board. A sign of being out-of-control hit me years ago. I vividly remember a tree loaded with gifts for a granddaughter having her third Christmas celebration in a week - first with Mom on Christmas Eve, then Dad for Christmas, finally with Grandparents a few days later. The child was exhausted with presents. I saw it in her eyes. That was the end of way-too-many presents. It took a long time for me to get over over-giving in sheer numbers of gifts.
All Kinds of Gifts
Giving has evolved for me. I see needs as well as desires. Giving can be encouragement, simple cash, an heirloom, history, memories, time, love. So many more choices along with what's in the box. Giving has evolved to become the joy that is so much more important than receiving.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 38 years.
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