All I want for Christmas …

All I want for Christmas …

Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 8:02 pm

I come from a long line of practical women. You know those jewelry store commercials that show the mom opening a diamond bracelet on Christmas morning? Yeah. In my 48 years of living, no woman in my family has ever opened a diamond bracelet on Christmas morning. In fact, I doubt my lovely mother or grandmother ever spent one second of their years on earth even considering whether or not they would get a diamond bracelet for Christmas. They were busy wondering if they had enough leftover cornbread to make good dressing for our family dinner.
In my family, Christmas gift-giving is all about practicality. When I was 8 years old, I bought my mom a pair of pantyhose for Christmas. I’m serious. She was thrilled. The next year my brother and I went in together and got her a plastic paper towel holder for the kitchen. We even offered to mount it ourselves. It was just what she wanted!  
I often got my dad navy blue dress socks or a bottle of English Leather after shave. He was delighted. Then there was the “school project ashtray” era. Amazing how much my mom and dad loved ashtrays, year after year after year. Who knew?
My grandparents were the same way. One year Granny got a new handmade rolling pin for Christmas. It was a treasured gift. Sometimes we got her new cloth placemats or a new tablecloth because she loved having company, lots of company. Blessedly, she passed down that tradition to my mom who passed it down to me. She received Tupperware™ bowls and pink house shoes and dusting powder and cheap perfume.
Pappa got white socks or overalls or bandana handkerchiefs or shiny new ties which he wore to church. And all of the gifts were received the same way … with joy and appreciation. Ironically, those gifts were exactly what they wanted. Each and every year.
When I was a girl, I remember asking my mom and dad what they REALLY wanted for Christmas. You know, if they could have REAL presents, not just a paper towel holder or a housecoat or navy blue dress socks, but a big present. They both smiled and said, “We have everything we want, Lisa.” I thought that was odd. Everything they want? How could human beings ever have everything they wanted?
That was the year I was tearing through the Sears Christmas catalog at the speed of light. I wanted a Barbie camper and an Easy Bake Oven. I definitely did NOT have everything I wanted yet because I had never made a rubbery bad-tasting cupcake with a light bulb. And until I did, life was going to have a lot less meaning. Mom and Dad were simply setting their sights too low.
My Granny and Pappa are in heaven now. There’s no more need for cheap dusting powder or shiny ties. They’re experiencing something far better. My mom and dad are the grandparents now. They’re even great-grandparents. Mom is already making plans for the big Christmas dinner. Daddy is busy stringing up the outdoor lights and putting up the live Christmas tree which he carefully chooses every year. I’m sure I could call and ask what they really want for Christmas. I could but I won’t. I finally figured it out. They have everything they want … and so do I.
For more information about Lisa Smartt, visit her website, lisasmartt.com.

Published in The Messenger 11.30.11

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