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family grief Holidays Widow

A Christmas Gift to Remember

The best gifts of Christmas are smiles and laughter with the ones you love

Christmas in our home was always the best holiday. We had record albums playing over and over on the stereo. Mitch Miller and the band would sing a bit and then tell us all to “gather round”. That was our favorite part.

On Christmas Eve my brother would get presents early in the day. It was OK because it was his birthday and that was fair. Usually.

Then later in the afternoon we would have a party for David. Neighbors would come too and then Santa would stop by. His sack would deliver for each of us the first gift of Christmas, then he would scurry on after eating a few homemade cookies – he had a busy night ahead of him so we understood and we hugged our new toys in joy.

A few years later Santa stopped coming to our house early on Christmas Eve. But we were blessed that my grandmother who lived not too far away would visit and spend the night.

Dining out, drinking some Baileys and then heading to Christmas Eve service at church became our new tradition.

We also decided to give family gifts on Christmas Eve. This new tradition made us each more thoughtful of one another. Would dad like a coffee mug? Would mom like this shade of lipstick? I bet my brother would like another football and my sister a new cassette of her favorite musical group.

It was a new challenge and responsibility that we all enjoyed and cherished even to this day.

Of course there is always that one present everyone remembers giving or getting.

Our grandmother, we called her nanny, lived in a mobile home that was filled to the brim with clothes, accessories and knick knacks. We loved to take out her little glass animal figurines that she kept in a curio cabinet on the screen porch. We would line up the animals in size order or by color. Then put them all back before we went home.

We always knew what to buy nanny for Christmas. Small glass animal figurines were indeed her favorite!

One year I came home from college and we were sitting around the living room by the tree getting ready to bestow our gifts on family members eager with anticipation.

Nanny was getting older but still liked a good belly laugh and sweetly loved participating in all of our traditions.

That year my sister and I opened her gifts and were delighted that she had wrapped up glass figurines from her screen porch curio cabinet for us. We recalled the fun times we had shared at her house and smiled. We assumed she had been doing some housecleaning and wasn’t it cute that these were now our treasures.

Then it was my brother’s turn. He got a small rectangle shaped box and smiled as he unwrapped it. The look of unexpected surprise when he opened the used box of staples was (and still is today) priceless!

Having been brought up well with manners and all he gratefully thanked Nanny. I’m not sure who started to laugh first but before you know it we all had tears rolling down our face, even Nanny. It was the most memorable gift ever and a good belly laugh.

Isn’t that the way it always is. No matter how perfect or imperfect the holiday is, it’s those moments in your life that make for good stories that you treasure.

Wishing everyone a holiday and a new year filled with a few unexpected smiles and laughs.

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