I never expected to receive a Christmas gift this year, but I did. In fact, I got two presents, and both came as a complete surprise. They were the first gifts that I’ve received at Christmas, in a very long time and at first, I hesitated about opening them.
But I’ll get back to the gifts of love in a moment because I need to tell you, dear reader, another story from my childhood.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve had mixed feelings about receiving gifts, but I’m not sure why. It’s not that I’m fussy or complicated to please – I’m not. It’s just that I feel awkward and unworthy – and I can’t explain it better than that. But I love giving gifts – so I’ll never be accused of being a Scrooge.
As one, of six children, we always had a present to open on our birthday or at Christmas, but they were seldom toys or other neat things that you’d see advertised on TV.
One Christmas, we got an oversized toboggan – but who wants to share that with two older sisters? But we always had a great Christmas feast and lots of company to share the excitement. And my Ma would always bake a birthday cake on our birthdays – so I’m not complaining or ungrateful.
But there was always a little part of me that was envious of my friends at school when they described all of the stuff they got. The gift I got most often, was something that my Ma knitted for me – such as a pair of mitts, a toque (knitted cap) or socks. My Grandma Puffer used to also knit things for my sisters, brothers and me. It wasn’t until later years that I realized how much time and love my Ma and Grandma put into knitting things for us.
And Ma used to make my sister’s blouses, dresses, and skirts. She was very talented, and I always received compliments when wearing a sweater that Ma had knitted me. I still have them, and I treasure them, although they no longer fit.
A few weeks before Christmas, one of the walking groups that I belong to was having a party, and everyone brought a gift. I left the party once the turkey dinner arrived, so I wasn’t there when the presents got distributed. Everyone brought something inexpensive that would be suitable for either a man or woman.
A week or so later, Reg Dutton, one of my walking buddies, mentioned that he had saved my gift from the party and it was in his car. He gave it to me last week, after Christmas but I never opened it until yesterday. It was a generous gift certificate. Again I felt a pang of guilt for receiving a gift.
The other gift that I received was unexpected – and it too warms my heart just thinking about it.
My friend Sannie had started a new job in Vancouver, so our get-togethers were becoming less frequent. But she is like a daughter to me, and I was hoping we could see each other before the holidays. We made arrangements to meet for lunch on the 23rd.
I had bought a bunch of goodies from Trader Joe’s for her as an unwrapped Christmas gift because I didn’t want her to feel bad for not getting me anything. But she told me that she had a gift from me, so after we had lunch and got back in the car, we exchanged our Christmas card and gift.
Sannie had wrapped my present neatly, with two ribbons on each end of the gift. I read the card – and then with my hands trembling with the excitement of a ten-year-old, I opened the present. It was a beautiful toque that she had knitted for me! And although I never asked her – I imagined that she probably thought about me, as she knitted. I held back the tears until we had said our goodbyes and had started the drive home. Her boyfriend, Kuba, is one lucky boy!
Yes, this was the best Christmas I’ve had in many years!
Today’s tune from Danny’s library (purchased):