This month, Karen and I are together to talk about Christmas presents. To some, waiting for the 25th of December is torture at its worst. For others, anticipation until the big day is excitement in itself. That’s one of the compelling things about Christmas morning; the expectation, no matter what form it takes.
The Christmas I turned thirteen, like all teenagers, I knew just enough about life to believe I was an expert on everything (or so I thought) especially guessing the contents of wrapped gifts. When my mother handed me a square present, I pronounced, “book”, certain she’d gotten me the latest in my favorite series. When she shook her head, I frowned, sure she must be trying to psyche me out. No one could outsmart a teenager… right?
Tearing off the wrapping paper revealed a black velvet-covered book with a beautiful silver metal square in the center, embossed with a rearing unicorn. Okay. So, yeah. I hated to be wrong and really, really, wanted the latest in my series, but I grew excited about what this book could be about. Until I opened it.
The pages were ruled but blank. I remember flipping through it frontwards and backwards, practically shaking it for the adventure story I was sure hid inside. When my mother shared that it was a journal, she might as well have said “poisonous snake”, that’s how fast I dropped it. While I LOVED reading, I hated/dreaded/avoided writing. What was I supposed to do with a journal? I was sure it was another useless suggestion from Dr. Nusbaum who was supposed to be helping me stop feeling so mad about my parents’ divorce and life in general. He was always going on and on about expressing my feelings… like that would help anything.
I hurled the journal in the trash, stalked to my new room and threw myself on the bed. I seriously hated Christmas now. I wondered what my father was doing. What my older sister was doing. Did they miss me? My eyes drifted shut and when I woke a couple of hours later, I discovered my presents piled on the bed beside me, the beautiful journal glimmering on top. Feeling bad about throwing it out (hey—it wasn’t the journal’s fault for being so terrible), I reached for it, opened it, and felt its smooth pages.
Before I knew it, I’d grabbed a pen and wrote “Merry Christmas from Hell” or something equally cheery like that. The funny thing was that simply writing those words filled me with something I’d been missing since my parents’ marriage (and my life) fell apart—control and a sense of freedom. I could write whatever I wanted in this journal. No judging. No timer. No reporting back to my parents. This journal was mine alone and over the next year it became my own secret world where I recorded my feelings, my hopes, my dreams, poems and short stories. This unexpected present, and the many journals that followed it, made me the author I am today. There is no such thing as the dreaded “blank page” for me. Nope. Instead, I always think back to this time in my life and imagine empty sheets as new frontiers for my imagination, kingdoms for my creativity and I happily, humbly, and gratefully set to work bringing them to life.
The first year my husband and I were married, I expected an utterly romantic gift from him. Even back before I wrote romance novels, happily-ever-after was always important to me, as I’d found and married my own prince charming.
We got up early that morning, giddy with love and excited to see what we’d wrapped for each other. He handed me a box, a clothing box, I determined, by the size and shape. My mind whirled. What could it be?
I slowly unfastened the tape and pulled off the colorful wrapping. Lifted the lid, pushed back the tissue paper...and found a long-sleeved yellow shirt and bubblegum pink pants that resembled tights. (It was the 80’s. What can I say?) I blinked, pulled out the articles of clothing and swallowed hard. Good grief. Didn’t the man I married know me? I’m a denim girl. I never wore yellow and...pink pants? PINK PANTS?
I glanced up at my husband. A big smile curved his lips and his eyes were bright with expectation. He’d gone out on his own, to a woman’s clothing store, no less, and bought me what he thought was a special outfit. How on earth could I tell him this was not my style? Disappointed, I thanked him. And later returned the pants.
But I learned a very important lesson that day. It’s more important to appreciate the giver then the actual gift. Hey, everyone can’t hit it out of the ball park every holiday. Especially not that first Christmas together. But I knew he was proud of his purchase and years later, we laughed about the pink pants.
Christmas is about love, no matter the size or type of gift we receive. How we receive a gift says a lot about our capacity to love. And love is all that really matters.
In the spirit of the holiday, Karen and I are giving away two different gifts to two readers who leave a comment about their favorite or crazy Christmas present. Just our way of thanking our awesome Heartwarming readers during this very special time of year.
One reader will receive Under an Adirondack Sky and The Bridal Bouquet, along with a pair of socks.
Another reader will receive His Kind of Cowgirl, Honeysuckle Bride and a pair of socks.
Here’s hoping you have a beautiful Christmas season and we look forward to bringing you more happily-ever-afters in 2017.
Make sure to leave a comment!