Gifts of Christmas

Jacquie Lawson Cards, “The Christmas Tree”

My uncle said once that money could bring happiness, contrary to what he’d heard.  He found such joy in giving his wealth away.  Those gifts multiplied many times over as they encouraged other givers.  So people’s lives were nurtured and restored, and they in turn were granted the privilege of giving to others:  the gifts just kept on giving.

Gifts don’t even have to be new.  Our grandchildren range in age from twenty to six years of age, but each child, from toddlerhood till their knees could no longer squeeze into place, has ridden the second-hand tricycle my sister donated when her own children outgrew it.  The tricycle was certainly not comfortable – it was so old that no seat cushions could be found to adequately cover the old metal seat plate.  That in no way stopped each child from zipping around our basement with glee. Once we found out we could link up the old steno chair with its free-wheeling base as a trailer, the fun was on.

One of last year’s gifts was a bonus, as it came in an old photo storage box – just the thing I’d been looking for in which to organize and keep old photographs.   I felt like a small child, as distracted and happy with the box as with the gift itself.

Sometimes the gift is Presence.   Our home offers us its gift of sanctuary, so that we can bask in the afternoon sunlight, winter cozy.  Outside, the Christmas wreath hangs on our front door and spruce woodchips from a local tree service scent our garden beds and walkways.  The bright hues of Christmas lights on our small tree are mesmerizing.

It’s Christmas time and we celebrate the awesome gift of the tiny child in a manger.  Even the poorest of us has been given such riches.  Gift that the Giver gave of himself, true abundance and ever-flowing life.




Old-Fashioned Christmas

In the early 1960s, our school in Hamilton still furnished their classrooms with rows of old-fashioned wooden desks, attached to each other.  They were marked up by decades of fidgety youngsters and leaky inkpots.  When they were replaced by the newer, shinier individual desks, the old ones were stored in our barn for years, along with old milk cans and other stuff destined to be part of the antiques world some day.

And that’s how I ended up with this particular item, evidently the row’s back seat.  It has a sentimental value, like many other things in my home. There’s the sampler I stitched in my 20s, reminiscent of the needlework young girls would make years ago.  There’s the cookie tin that belonged to my Dad’s mother, the only tangible item we have that belonged to her.  There’s the doll, wearing clothes that once fit a baby daughter.  There’s the jazz singer statue we picked up in New Orleans.  There are the children’s gifts and the Mother’s Day cards.

When we had to clear our parents’ home, we took the precaution of asking our aunt to go over things before they were recycled or discarded.  They weren’t necessarily things that would be valued on the market.   The old couch that we lounged on as teenagers was still in use forty years later.  There were the leather hangers my uncle had made.  There was the first radio my Mom bought with her first hospital wage earnings.  It was costly at the time, but she had an amazing radio reception from her perch on the Hamilton escarpment, sometimes even tuning into Dutch broadcasts.

It’s Christmas time, and again we bring up the boxes from under the basement stairs.  Many ornaments have been part of the collection for years.  The tree is smaller, but the creche, Sinterklaas, the carol singers, the angels, the nutcrackers are arranged once more around the room.  The wreath is hung up on the door, and the snowmen arranged in the front hallway.  It’s not even for the kids, as the family Christmas isn’t here this year.   It’s for us.

In a children’s book much beloved by my children, a young boy named Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge reaches out to an old woman to help her remember again.   A shell stirred up memories of the wonderful summer days when she collected them on the beach as a child.  Similarly, as we hold them in our hands, things seem insignificant, but they remind us of people and places and special times of our lives.

So, for now, they’re staying.