Simple Gifts

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I hope everyone who celebrates is having a joyful Christmas season (I’m all about celebrating the 12 days of Christmas and leaving all decorations up until they are over).

On Christmas Eve day, I woke up in my childhood bed with two things to accomplish for the day: prep a bunch of food for our family feast, and wrap alllll of my Christmas presents.  Most had been shipped to home, and many of them I had yet to see in person.  Now, I claim to be someone who is a terrible gift-giver.  My good friends know that I will love you fiercely every day of the year, but there is a very good chance that I will forget your birthday.  I always want to send Christmas and birthday cards, but apparently have not yet entered that stage of adulthood where I can make the time.  It’s something I have, for the moment, accepted about myself.  C’est la vie.

But once I have a hard deadline like Christmas Day, I actually get really into gift-giving.  This year I painstakingly wrapped presents for 3 ½ hours on Tuesday morning, adding ribbons and bows all over the place.  (It’s my pile of gifts in the pic above.)  I really treasure those rare opportunities to devote a lot of time to such a simple task.  It reminded me that just about any activity can be meditative, as long as it’s is done with attention and care.

Now, most people say that it is far better to give than to receive.  And I understand why that’s true.  But I think it’s important to notice when you are receiving a gift as well, and to take that small pause to find some gratitude, and- why not- some excitement as well!  That’s what the gift-giver is hoping for, isn’t it? 

This Christmas my family and I received a lot.  On Christmas Eve day, we got my mom’s older sister all to herself for the afternoon.   My aunt helped me and my sister cook for our Mexican feast the next day (we’ve gotten into themed Christmas meals as of late), came to Mass with us, and spent the night at my parent’s house.  It was such a treat to have her there to spend some quieter moments together, which we don’t often get once “the fam” starts showing up and the festivities begin.

Christmas Eve, our plan was to wait for my brother-in-law to get home from work, around 11:30.  Then we would exchange presents with my immediate family, stay up really late, and probably be completely wiped out all Christmas Day.  I was praying that my parents would stay healthy through it all- 2am is NOT their usual bedtime.  So what a surprise that we returned at 9:30 to find Dev already home from work, ready to open gifts!

But the biggest, bestest gift was a joint present for my entire family.  My grandfather had surgery the week before Christmas, and it was touch and go with his recovery as to whether they would be able to make the trip to our house for the holiday.  My grandmother had been preparing us all week for the possibility that they wouldn’t be there on the day.  My mom and her siblings were trying to be realistic, and us grandkids were equally unrealistically just ignoring the idea altogether.  What nobody was admitting was that all 27 of us would be devastated if they weren’t able to make it.

Christmas Eve we got the text, but it wasn’t until Christmas morning, when we heard the doorbell ring and saw my grandparents standing on the porch, that we knew for sure.  I (gingerly) hugged my grandfather and said “I never doubted you.”  He said “I never doubted me either.”

Long before we sat down to eat, and hours after the last gift had been unwrapped, I think ALL of us felt that glow that comes from just being around the people you love.  It was a very blessed Christmas indeed.

Be well.

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