‘Twas three nights before Christmas Eve, when all through the house, we were making our lists and checking them twice.
My son, 16 years old, with his first “serious” girl friend (i.e., they’ve gone on an actual *date* to see Harry Potter):
Mom, I need to get a present for A—–.
Do you know what you want to get her?
Yes, will you help me buy something on-line?
What is it?
Uh-oh. My son has good taste. My mom has him hooked on clothes from Joseph A. Banks. My husband encouraged a purchase at Brooks Brothers because “a good shirt can last for years.” He doesn’t have a lot of clothes, but what he has is nice.
A necklace? It depends on if it fits in my budget.
What’s your budget?
Um, I don’t know. How much is the necklace?
It’s from Tiffany.
I pick myself up off the floor and try to stop laughing.
I turn to my husband:
I don’t think you’ve ever bought me anything from Tiffany!
Back to my son:
I turn to my husband:
Have you ever spent $115 on jewelry for me?
Not on a single item!
(Probably true, not counting my engagement ring and wedding band).
We find out that my son’s (female) friend suggested the necklace. (He denied that she works for Tiffany!) We confirm that A—– won’t be freaked out by such a nice gift. We log onto Tiffany.com.
Yes, my son is spoiled. But considering that he didn’t even make a “list” for himself, we don’t mind doing this for him, because giving this to her is what will make him happy on Christmas.
I’ve gone through the same thing with my daughter. She puts a lot of time and effort into choosing just the right gifts for her close friends, grandparents, and other relatives, and is more generous than I would be with some of her selections. But, I know that gift-buying can be fraught with stress and it is very important to her that she find something that the person will really like. It’s easy for me to know that for my parents it really is the thought that counts, but they also appreciate all the thoughtful, “perfect” gifts that she finds.
So, as I pull out my wallet, I try to bite my tongue and give thanks that I have raised such generous children.
Some day I will share with them my Christmas meltdown, when I was distraught that the gifts I could afford to give my husband did not begin to express how much I loved him. I was really feeling inadequate when I was rescued by The Grinch Who Stole Christmas:
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more.”
I’m not saying that I don’t still stress over finding presents that everyone will enjoy, but I no longer worry about them matching up to the love, friendship and appreciation that I have for the recipient. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older (or realize that my children are getting older), or maybe it’s because I have everything I need (and more), but I really am more excited about seeing family and friends than I am about finding out what is wrapped in pretty paper under our tree.
“Christmas Day is in our grasp
so long as we have hands to clasp.
Christmas Day will always be
Just as long as we have we.
Welcome, Christmas, while we stand
Heart to heart … and hand in hand.”
(Thank you, Dr. Seuss!)