One of my happy childhood holiday memories is of my father sitting by our fireplace near Christmas time, wrapping cartons of cigarettes, boxes of whiskey, ties and other items that he distributed to the various individuals he did business with. There was always a big pile when he was done. Then he would load them into his car and the next day he’d hand deliver them. Occasionally I got to ride with him. This was always a great treat.
Christmas memories are in themselves a gift of the season for me. I delight in recalling the images from my childhood: my mother playing carols on her violin on Christmas Eve, the table at my Great Aunt’s set with gleaming crystal and shining silver, the tree, all decorated with the carefully preserved ornaments and the foil tinsel that was always saved from year to year. I cherish these and other memories. It is always a treat to hear those of others as well.
As I was shopping in our local market a grocery wagon drew up next to mine. The sweet faced older lady pushing it beamed in my direction. “I just loved your last column in the paper,” she said. She went on to tell me a special Christmas story about her son when he was a child. I was very touched and thanked her, not only for the compliment but also for sharing her happy story.
To me that kind of experience is the same as receiving a gift from Santa Claus. Santa, whose origins go back hundreds of years to St. Nicholas, Sinter Klaas, and the Christkindl that became Kris Kringle, is seldom seen without a smile on his face, and no wonder. His job is to bring joy to the hearts of those who celebrate Christmas. The glee of young children who cherish Santa is not misplaced. Santa is about love. He does not spend money, just time and effort.
The smile of love cannot be purchased nor must it be paid for. Smiles and friendly words are to me more precious than anything money can buy. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of a baby. How appropriate! The smile of a baby is perhaps the most special of all gifts. Those who are privileged to receive such a gift know what a treasure it is.
To me a gift at the holidays whether given or received is a kind token of affection. When I give, it’s not because I feel under any obligation to do so, rather I like sharing something I believe the recipient will enjoy or appreciate, and if not that he or she will pass it on to someone who might like it more. When people give to me I am always delighted because someone has acknowledged their fondness for me. In other words, I feel blessed.
It is said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Perhaps that is true. For myself I feel equally blessed whether I am giving or receiving. It does not matter to me whether I am the recipient or the donor. What does matter is the smile I see when I look into the eyes of my friend, family member or even a stranger and the exchange of kind regard that I feel free to accept.