A Gift for Christmas

Those who know me, know I love Christmas.  Like the tympani in a concert, the excitement begins around Thanksgiving and slowly builds as the weather gets colder.  By the time the first snow arrives, there is a distinct rumble in the distance, which grows louder and faster until its crescendo on Christmas morning.

Although I am by American standards, a conservative holiday spender, the weekends preceding Christmas are usually spent searching for the perfect gift for my loved ones.  I love nothing more than to surprise someone with a brightly wrapped package that contains an item that will warm his heart. Sometimes the gift is homemade, like the flannel pajamas I sewed for family and friends last year.  Sometimes it is a costly treasure, never dreamed possible by its recipient.  Sometimes it is small and inexpensive, but tugs at the heartstrings and brings tears to the eyes.

This year has been different.  Although I usually hear silver tinkles of “Jingle Bells” in my head as soon as the kids go back to school, this year I heard nothing.  I wandered around a few stores earlier in the fall, but I just couldn’t get excited about gifts.  I was trying to adjust to the idea that for the first time, we wouldn’t be all together. We’ve had other holidays with family missing, but not Christmas.  I knew the time would come eventually, and I thought I was ready, but I was not. 

As parents, our goal is supposed to be to get our kids to a place where they can fly alone.  We strive to teach them independence.  We help them to walk, and to pedal a bike, and then to drive.  All these lessons teach them to move away from us.  It is part of the Master’s plan. But there is nothing in the handbook about the hole that is left when they are gone.  How do we have Christmas without us all together?

Then, Elizabeth had an idea.  “Let’s forgo gifts to each other, pool our resources, and fly Gabe home from England for Christmas!” she suggested.  It was a brilliant plan that after several Skype dates and emails was finally executed. Tonight at 6:20, his plane will land in Boston.

No, there won’t be packages to unwrap. No ribbon on the floor, no trips to the dumpster to get rid of tissue and packaging.  No surprises and shrieks of “Just-what-I-always-wanted!”  There will be no last minute stuffing of the stockings.  No midnight wrapping of gifts.  There will be no whispers behind closed doors, no shaking of boxes, no searching for scissors and tape.

But this Christmas, our home will once again be warm and full and cozy.  We’ll be together, if only for one more year.  And all will be bright.

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