I never expected to receive a Christmas gift this year but I did. In fact, I got two gifts and both came as a complete surprise. They were the first gifts that I’ve received at Christmas, in a very long time and at first, I hesitated about opening them. But I’ll get back to the gifts of love in a moment because I need to tell you, dear reader, another story from my childhood.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve had mixed feelings about receiving gifts but I’m not sure why. It’s not that I’m fussy or difficult to please – I’m not. It’s just that I feel awkward and unworthy – but I can’t explain it better than that. But I love giving gifts – so I’ll never be accused of being a Scrooge.
As one, of six children, we always had a gift to open on our birthday or at Christmas but they were seldom toys or other neat things that you’d see advertised on TV. One Christmas, we got an oversized toboggan – but who wants to share that with two older sisters? But we always had a great Christmas feast and always lots of company to share the excitement. And my Ma would always bake a birthday cake on our birthdays – so I’m not complaining or ungrateful.
But there was always a little part of me that was jealous of my friends at school when they described all of the stuff they got. The gift I got most often, was something that my Ma knitted for me – such as a pair of mitts, a toque (knitted cap) or socks. My Grandma Puffer used to also knit things for my sisters, brothers and me. It wasn’t until later years that I realized how much time and love were spent by Ma and Grandma knitting things for us. And Ma used to make my sister’s blouses, dresses, and skirts. She was very talented and I always received compliments when wearing a sweater that Ma had knitted me. I still have the sweaters and I treasure them, although they no longer fit.
A few weeks before Christmas, one of the walking groups that I belong to was having a party and everyone brought a gift. I didn’t stay at the party once the meal was served, so I wasn’t there when the gifts were distributed. Everyone brought something inexpensive that would be suitable for either a man or woman. A week or so later, one of my walking buddies mentioned that he had saved my gift from the party and it was in his car. He gave it to me last week, after Christmas but I never opened it until yesterday. It was a generous gift certificate. Again I felt a pang of guilt for receiving a gift.
The other gift that I received was really unexpected – and it too warms my heart just thinking about it.
My friend Sannie had started a new job in Vancouver, so our get-togethers were becoming less frequent. But she is like a daughter to me and I was hoping we could see each other before the holidays. We made arrangements to meet for lunch on the 23rd. I had gathered a bunch of goodies from Trader Joe’s for her as an unwrapped Christmas gift because I didn’t want her to feel bad for not getting me anything. But she told me that she had a gift from me, so after we had lunch and got back in the car, we exchanged our Christmas card and gift.
Sannie’s gift to me was neatly wrapped with two ribbons on each end of the gift. I read the card – and then with my hands trembling with the excitement of a ten-year-old, I opened the present. It was an awesome toque that she had knitted for me! And although I never asked her – I imagined that she probably thought about me, as she knitted it. I held back the tears until we had said our goodbyes and had started the drive home. Her boyfriend Kuba, is a very lucky boy!
This was the best Christmas I’ve had in many years!