I grew up with several Christmas stories being read to me. One of my favorites and that always sticks in my mind is The Gift of the Magi. You probably heard of it, about the couple, Jim and Della, who were very poor and couldn’t afford a Christmas gift for each other and so Jim sells his only prized possession, a watch, to buy hair combs for Della. Della, who had very long beautiful hair, sells her hair to buy a chain for Jim’s watch.
I always loved that story because it showed us the love that this couple had and was willing to give up all that they had to offer to give to one another. It also showed that even though the gift they received was no longer of use, they still loved it because it came from the heart.
That was a lesson we were taught during any time of the year where a gift was being received. The gift itself was not what was important. The most important part of receiving the gift was knowing that someone cared enough to take the time to bring or send you a gift.
When I was little my maternal Grandmother Anderson would send me a doll every Christmas no matter how old I was. My paternal Grandmother Coutts would send me doilies handmade by her. Even though I knew what was in the wrapping I was very excited to see which doll or doily I would receive that year.
Later on in life, my mom would tell me a little bit about her mother and my Aunt Joanna told me something about her mother that made me realize the significance of those gifts so many years ago.
I would learn that my Grandmother Anderson came from parents that worked very hard and did not have much money for gifts. As all little girls, she longed for a new doll. It was never clear to me if she ever received a new doll or a hand me down but once she married and my grandparents became successful she enjoyed being able to give. She would handpick a doll that she thought I would like because it was something she longed for as a little girl.
I would then learn that my Grandmother Coutts, who was not very well off but had a gift of knitting would make doilies to give out. When I was younger they would start out large, colorful and very detailed and over the years they would become smaller, one color and less detailed. The reason they evolved over time was because my grandmother was not able to see very well and arthritis would develop. So even though she couldn’t see very well and her hands would be in pain after knitting a certain amount of time she still made sure she had something to send.
As a young girl I always appreciated my gifts even though I knew what was coming because I knew my grandparents thought of us even though we lived far away. Now that I am older and understand the significance of those gifts I appreciate them even more. I can now look at the doilies and see over time when my grandmother was losing her sight or developing arthritis and yet she still took the time to make me a gift that will be treasured forever. I would pass my dolls down to my sister as I moved out on my own but they were loved by two little girls and the precious memories of opening them up will always be treasured as well.
I tell this story because the world today has become so materialistic that many people are more concerned about what they receive than what gift giving is actually about. Gift giving has become stressful to the giver because they are worried about the gift being rejected. Giving a gift is about love and I taught my children that no matter what you receive it’s to be appreciated because they didn’t have to think of you at all. Just like my parents taught us, I would hope that I passed that value down to my children and they pass it on to theirs.
So this Christmas season let’s remember the reason for the season and then remember that when it comes to receiving a gift, it’s the thought that counts.