Posted by: smstrouse | December 22, 2011

What Did You Get for Christmas – Last Year?

Quick – what did you get for Christmas last year?  No fair if it was an engagement ring or a puppy. I’m talking about the usual round of gift-giving that goes on at Christmastime. And no, this is not a screed against exchanging presents. I started thinking about this the other day when I was standing in line at the Whole Foods market. There was a riotous assortment of interesting things: Christmas ornaments that have seeds in them so they’ll actually sprout and grow, gift sets of organic lotions, holiday CDs, small poinsettias in decorative pots, etc. You know what I mean. This was stuff you’d never buy for yourself. This was Whole Foods’ attempt to help me find something for that person on my gift list who either has everything or who I just don’t know that well – which is cool; I’ve given and gotten my share of that kind of gift (hint: those growing ornaments looked awfully intriguing).

No, what this really got me asking myself was: What was the best Christmas present I’ve ever received? I was kind of surprised at how difficult this was to answer. I can think of a lot of good stuff – but the best gift? After rummaging around through a lot of memories, what finally came to me was remembering the process of my parents’ letting go of their expectations and abilities to buy gifts for all of us. Even when I had moved away and couldn’t come home for Christmas, there was always a big box filled with presents delivered to my door. Alas, the box kept shrinking (although they could never get over their addiction to the Swiss Colony catalog) and my mother was apologetic. Finally, I told her (and this was in all honesty), “You know what I’d really love you to send me? Some of your homemade Christmas cookies.” And that’s what she did – not for too many more years, but I did love those cookies.  As I look back, I think that was my best Christmas gift – from when I was little and helped decorate the cutout cookies to now as I remember those times.

What was the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received? Probably not something that was bought on impulse in line at the supermarket. Maybe not even a thing. I don’t know about you, but thinking about this helps me keep the season in proper perspective. It’s not about the stuff (OK, except for the cookies!).

Have a very blessed Christmas!



  1. I got a lovely Tree of Life crafted in Africa out of discarded oil drums. And I remember because if I turn my head left as I’m sitting here at my computer, I can see it on the wall over on the other side of my bed . . . . . . 🙂


  2. My most memorable, if not best, gift was a picnic table that I got when I was 5 or 6. It sat on the back porch for about 20 years and was our table when we ate outside; the table used for birthday parties; a craft table; the stage for many impromptu performances; something for the dog to climb on and look into the house, whining for attention; anything we did in the backyard involved the picnic table in some way. I don’t know how many thousands of hours we spent at, on, or under that table!


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