Around Christmastime, one of my dear friend’s recurring mantras is this:
“Give from the heart. Not from the mart.”
I like it, and it makes sense.
But anybody with children will attest to the fact that this sentiment only goes so far. I mean if Santa left only baked goods or a handmade craft, a palpable sense of betrayal would fairly howl through most households in this country.
I wouldn’t be any good at handcrafting a PlayStation or a Big Wheel. Hell, I had trouble assembling the Big Wheels and other contraptions Santa left for my twins, and invariably there were parts left over…
I remember grappling with a Foosball table one Christmas Eve as I downed beer after beer, in no way fooled by the fantasy that one more drink would make the process any easier. That table was very nearly my undoing, and it was as wobbly as I was.
But I soldiered on, listening to Pope John Paul II on the television as he concluded yet another Midnight Mass.
For better or for worse, I had the damned thing put together. With an air of drunken self-satisfaction, I took a bite out of Santa’s cookie, finished off his milk and went to bed.
I am so glad I am sober now, by the way. Have been for years.
Because my twins have December birthdays and I am not Rockefeller, I would always find myself “jammed up” about how to pull off the two events…
…but credit cards, a bit of squirreled cash and the kindness of loved ones made it possible for my son and daughter to enjoy their holidays; if not in high style, then by all means in a manner that prevented them from feeling pinched.
Despite my promises to myself to be better prepared “next year,” that has yet to happen. But birthdays and Christmases came and went, and everything seemed to work out. Every. Single. Year.
But what if your kids are adults?
My twins just turned 27, and I am lucky that they are both nearby. My son and daughter-in-law live in Myrtle Beach, and my daughter is down from New York, staying with them as she works from home for a time – a decidedly positive byproduct of the COVID-19 nightmare. I’m thrilled she is able to do that.
They are still getting presents, though, but the endgame moving forward is to keep it simple and avoid credit card spending.
I need to keep in mind that as far as gifts are concerned, 27 is not 17 is not 7 – and yet I keep hearkening back to those times, like, will my gifts be enough…
But then I snap back to reality with the profound realization that, yes, they will be enough because I am enough. This is where the heart comes in, where spending time together comes in, where love comes in.
That kind of acceptance just became the biggest gift I could possibly give myself.