Thursday, December 25, 2014


Every year for as long as we have been parents, we have kept Christmas as much on the down low as possible as far as gift giving goes.  We reeled in my parents many years ago and explained that it wasn't about the gifts.  Sure they knew that, but these are their grand babies for pete's sake; and they enjoyed watching them open a plethora of gifts.  From the time Addi was old enough to understand Christmas, she always asked for a "surprise" from Santa.  I admit, ahem, that was coached on our part; but it worked out well for us.  Never a disappointment with a surprise.  I's a surprise, so she was always happy.  Over the last few years, the kids have gotten more specific on their wants; and as they've gotten older....the gifts get a little a lot more pricey.  What they do know is that they receive one gift from Santa and one gift from mom and dad....2 gifts on Christmas Day.  They usually get a modest individual gift from grandma and one big group gift from her, and until this year they each received a modest gift from Moo (my mom).  Aunt Melinda gives them spending money, and my cousin and aunt get them a little something too.  We have been very deliberate in not going overboard with gifts or expectations.   They may have had some disappointments in the past, but they have always been very good about not showing it if they did.  They respect our financial limitations and decisions about gift giving, and they know that there are so many who don't receive near what they do.  This year was our fist year without my mom, and I can say that she probably loved Christmas more than anyone I know.  She loved the meaning, but she really really loved the giving.  She was always very generous with so many....including those she didn't know.  Being an only child, I was showered with gifts each Christmas.  My mom always use to say that I was spoiled but not spoiled rotten, because I never asked for anything in particular and was happy with anything I received.  When I think back, that was pretty much true...especially as I got older.  The gifts aren't what I remembered or looked forward to. I loved going to my Mamaw's and Papaw's house and waking up there on Christmas morning....not for presents but for presence.  My grandparents were instrumental in helping me form my faith, and they were also very frugal.  They made sure I knew the meaning of Christmas.  I loved how they lived so richly but yet so simply.  I actually enjoyed washing dishes in the sink, because they never owned a dishwasher.  I loved picking vegetables from their garden and shelling peas to eat for supper.  I loved my Mamaw's tiny silver Christmas tree and never watching TV, except Johnny Carson (and it had nothing to do with the fact that they only had 2 channels).  I loved picking cotton with my Uncle Mike and my hand and then one day on the tractor...when they finally bought one.  I loved walking down to the railroad tracks, right next to the house where I lived as a baby, to put pennies on the tracks.  I loved that my Papaw took me fishing and let me sit in his lap to steer the boat.  I loved that he let me swing his gavel in the courtroom of the Anson courthouse where he served as the judge of Jones County for as long as he was allowed.  I loved going to the beauty shop that my cousins (on my dad's side) owned while my Mamaw got her hair done every Friday.  I loved the drugstore for coke floats, and driving into Abilene to go to the mall to buy Easter shoes.  I loved that old farmhouse that Papaw built on his own, and my Uncle Mike's old pickup truck.  I loved that Mamaw and Uncle Mike loved cats and had plenty of them.  I loved that Mamaw would sleep with me when I visited, and I would fall asleep to her telling me nursery rhymes and tickling my arm.  I loved helping her find rocks for her rock garden, and I loved showing people her rock garden when they would stop by for a visit. So I guess my longing for living more simply has always been a part of who I am, and I want it to be a part of who they are.  I want my kids to know that it isn't about the presents but about the presence.  NPayne, on the other hand, grew up without a lot.  His mama worked hard to take care of her family, but sometimes they did without.  He LOVES to be able to give to the kids, and we have had to compromise on this throughout the years. He agrees that it's not about the presents but the presence as well, but he does want to give the kids something grand; since they only get 1 gift from us and 1 from Santa.  These 2 gifts usually take a lot of planning and discussing before we agree on what to get trying to keep it simple, and he trying to make it big.  We grew up very never doing without, and him doing without a lot.  Neil works hard for his family and really wanted to give the girls something that would be way out of the norm and lift their spirits.  We shook things up a bit this year.  Since there would be no gift from my mom, we let the kids draw names and buy a gift for each other.  They were into it and really seemed to enjoy it.  But then we really surprised the girls.  They each got their one gift from Santa, some specified and some not, and a group gift from mom and dad instead of grandma.  When they saw the group gift from us, they assumed that was all (since they usually get that from grandma); and they were happy with what they had gotten.  Recording equipment is a very nice group gift if I do say so myself, and they knew this right away.  Then I handed each of them a small brown lunch sack...trying to keep it inconspicuous.  They were so overwhelmed and surprised by what was inside that they stared in amazement and then the tears came.  They would have gladly given back everything they received for this one gift (except maybe Elli, who really loves her baby doll), but they won't have least not this year.  Next year, it will be back to a little more simplicity.  One of the good things about this gift is that it covers the presents and the presence, since we will be going to see TAYLOR SWIFT together.  There will be a lot of loud singing and dancing involved which we are pretty good at already, and I can't wait to see the excitement on their faces come next October.  The most ironic part about it all is that those concert tickets didn't cost as much as a used guitar from Santa, but you would have thought we bought them the world. And this year....we did!

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