Friday, November 30, 2007

The Santa Gift

Every year from July on when I start buying Christmas presents, I agonize over what to get the kids from Santa. See, it's like this... I live for Christmas. Not for the trees and the tinsel or the music, though that's nice for setting the mood and all. But for me it's the one time of the year that I can fully indulge my gifting addiction. I spend the whole year listening to the people in my life -- trying to pay attention to things they say they want or need, or things they wish they could do - all in search of the perfect gifts. The pinnacle of Christmas for me is to get someone that one perfect gift - maybe the one they didn't even know they wanted and love all the more because of it. If I can hit one person just right each year, I consider my Christmas a great success. I even keep note cards in my wallet for each person I buy for. Alright. You can all take your fingers out of your throats now. I realize I'm sickening. I can't help it.

When it comes to gift giving Santa is Da Man. He makes Christmas. He is the magic of Christmas. So in my house, The Santa Gift (and there is only one per child) is all important. It's the most longed for item - be it big or small. Sometimes it's even an item wished for subconsciously. That Santa is one tricky dude. When I was a child Santa always brought us the one thing that we wanted most every year. This was not necessarily the thing we asked for. My dad had a good ear, too. He and my mom went way out of their way to make sure we Believed.

I remember one year right after we moved to northern California, we were eating dinner when there was a knock on the front door. No one ever used our front door. My sister & I (about 4 & 7) and our parents all looked back & forth at each other wondering who could be at the front door when we heard the jingle of sleigh bells. Oh my! My sister & I were out of our chairs faster than our parents could say "Go see who it is." When we through open the door, there on the front porch was a freshly cut Christmas tree leaning against the house. We about knocked it over trying to get around it to see where the bells had come from. Finally we both broke free of the door and the tree to get a look at the front yard. You'll never believe what we saw! Sleigh tracks! And reindeer paw prints! Awesome! That was my Dad, through and through. He loved Christmas, too.

I think, though, that the best Christmas gift I've ever been given was from my Mom (aka Santa) after my Dad had died. I was a teenager. I don't know what I wanted for Christmas or if I really wanted anything at all except to grow up too fast and get on with my life. Yet I still wanted to hold on to the past that included my Dad. I'm sure it was an extremely trying time for my Mom as a parent. But on Christmas morning when I walked out to the tree, there was The Santa Gift. It was a hope chest. Perfection. I hadn't even realized I wanted one!

I've thought long and hard over the years about why a hope chest has remained the most memorable Christmas gift I have ever received. Certainly I've been given bigger, more expensive gifts since then. I've definitely been given gifts I've wanted and needed more. So why does a hope chest hold the coveted spot at the top of the list?

I think it's because of what the hope chest symbolized to me. It was a place to tuck away the memories from the past for safe keeping. Yet also a place to hold my future wishes and dreams. The Santa Gift struck the right cord in where I was at in my life and where I wanted to go - and mostly that my Mom got all that, even if she didn't know she was getting it. The perfection of the gift didn't lie in the trunk itself but the idea behind it.

So every year at Christmas I try to replicate that experience for my boys. It's my turn to be Santa and that's a big responsibility. Will I know the gift when I give it? I may not know when I buy the gift but I surely hope to know when I see my boy's face as he opens it. Perfection.

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Sherry said...

Stella, thank you for sharing this memory. It was simply beautiful.

I hope you will record this memory for your children on a cassette (do they still make those)? So that they can have this memory of you for always.

whymommy said...

Coolness. I really like this and your explanation of it. I've been thinking that the Santa Gift in our house should be less exciting and important than one to treasure from Mom and Dad ... but now I don't know. Very nice!

ptesinge said...

That was a beautiful post Stella!

I'm like you - I shop all year round and keep a list on my computer where I jot down thinkgs I hear people say all year long so I know what to get come Christmas time (if I haven't already)! Glad to now I'm not the only one who so looks forward to the December culmination. (And frankly, Stella, I sometimes find it creepy how many little personality quirks we seem to ahve in common! haha!) Merry Christmas!