As we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays, it is easy to forget what the season is all about.
After my husband and I moved to Texas from Michigan, we rarely made it back to our home state for holidays, and my mother always sent handmade gifts for Christmas. The necessity of counting pennies has ruled her entire life, and we became accustomed to not expecting gifts of any great monetary value. Even so, the arrival of her annual box always sparked an eagerness in me that I never fully understood. The gifts were either hand made or just a small trinket, and sometimes there were even gifts for ‘we-don’t-know-who’. There were also times we didn’t even know what the gift was or what it was for; usually something she knitted or crocheted that could be a small afghan or a large lap blanket.
When the kids were young, they never understood my excitement over mother’s box, either, but I couldn’t fault them for that. It’s easy for a simple gift to be diminished when stacked up next to one larger and more expensive, and like the kids, I often saw my mother’s efforts as a mere gesture.
But the year that necessity forced me to make gifts, was the year that I finally understood what a gift really is, whether handmade or purchased.
A gift is not just a thing. It’s a connection between the person giving and the person receiving that says something special about the relationship between the two. And a gift should never be rushed. The longer you think about it, plan it, and work on it, the stronger the connection.
That’s the special, intangible ingredient my mother wrapped up and sent to us for all those years.
So that is the intangible ingredient I wrapped up in this short story that is my gift to you this Christmas. It was written a number of years ago with a dear friend, and every year since when I read it again at Christmas, I can’t help but think of the magic of this season.