Every Christmas I spend a lot of time reflecting on other Christmases. I have a Christmas journal which holds memories of people & events surrounding every Christmas for the past 15 years. Anyone else do this? I also write in it the gifts people gave me & some of the ones I gave them. And I ask my kids questions like, "What was your favorite Christmas gift you ever got?", because I love re-living the excitement of giving someone that perfect gift.
In fact, my favorite Christmases are the ones when I had found just the right gift & couldn't wait to give it to someone and see their reaction. To me, that's really the gift. The reaction. The type that brings on screams of excitement, looks of shock, and (if you really did a good job) tears of joy.
When I think back to my favorite Christmases, I always think of one in particular. I don't even know what year it was. I think I was a teen-ager. My dad got the idea to surprise my Mamaw (his mom) with a drawing of her childhood home in Kentucky. She had told us story after story of growing up there, and she had one little black and white photo of the house. My dad took the photo from her house without her knowing and from that, made a drawing of the house. We were all in on the big surprise. I remember how excited we were, night after night, watching it come together, imagining how exciting it was going to be on Christmas Day when she would finally open it & see it for herself.
I will never forget when the time came and we all gathered around her in our basement den, my Papaw beside her with his arms folded, smiling with the knowledge of the secret. And when she opened it, she gave us the gift we had all been waiting for. Her silence said it all. Then she cried and said, "Oh, Honey, " about 29 times, which caused us all to cry and feel more proud than we even thought possible because the mission was accomplished. She loved it.
To this day she still over-reacts to everything we do for her. It's a gift she doesn't even know she gives us. And she means it with all her heart. Every time. I love that about her.
I want to be more like that. I want to be genuinely thankful for the little things. I want to give my kids the gift of a good reaction when I open up that tchotchke from the Dollar Store again this year.
And I'll give my husband the gift of a good reaction when I see that fabulous bird cage he's giving me (yes, I accidentally found out about it- and no, it's not for a bird). And I'll do my best not to return whatever item of clothing he may have waiting for me under the tree as well.
Because I know what the gift of a good reaction feels like. And it's better than a bird cage. No matter how fabulous.