The Christmas Presents I Remember

Yesterday morning, Anna and I stopped by our local post office. While Anna munched on crackers and thumbed through a display of bubble mailers, I addressed several flat-rate envelopes and stuck the last of our Christmas presents for family and friends inside. I felt two emotions at the same time—hope, that everyone would like what I’d picked out for them; and relief, that my Christmas shopping and boxing was now (literally!) wrapped up.

For all its festiveness, the end of the year can be a stressful time. Arranging get-togethers and travel plans with loved ones. Finishing work projects. And buying presents. Always…buying…presents.

To be honest, I love picking out presents for people. I especially love doing this for my daughters. Stanton and I are so looking forward to Friday morning, when the girls will open our Christmas presents for them before we drive to my mom and dad’s house in Pennsylvania.

I think Grace will love the blue watch we got her—actually, I know she will, because she told me that’s what she wanted: “a blue watch.” And I can picture Anna’s eyes lighting up when she opens her box of dress-up headpieces. And I picture…ripped wrapping paper on the hardwood floor; hot chocolate with marshmallows in mugs on the coffee table; and staying in our pajamas longer than we ever would on a normal Friday morning.

I thought back to my own childhood. I tried to remember, what were some of my favorite Christmas presents? I thought harder…

christmas-present

What came to mind, instantly—and as clearly as if it had just happened—was my parents’ living room. There was ripped wrapping paper there, too. And my Dad with a big Hefty bag, cleaning up.

I remembered my Dad.

And my Mom. In my memory, my Mom was sitting on the couch, holding a cup of coffee because she’d been up until 2 a.m. wrapping all the presents and baking the last of our Christmas cookies. Although I didn’t know it at the time.

Kids never know, until much later, all the things their moms and dads did for them.

My Dad and my Mom.

My brothers and sister, too—I remembered them. We were all there together. Later that day, my grandparents would come over…and other family and friends…and we’d celebrate Christmas all day long.

I remembered all those things very clearly.

Not one single Christmas present, however, is a clear memory. (Sorry, Mom and Dad!)

Kids never know, until much later, all the things their moms and dads did for them.

Christmas presents are fun—the giving and the getting. They’re especially fun for kids. It’s unfortunate, though, that some of the things related to the fun and festivity of this season can be stressful.

So if you’re feeling stressed right now, friends…if you still haven’t addressed all your Christmas cards (me neither!)…or wrapped your kids’ presents…or crossed off some lingering end-of-year to-do’s…take a breath. Take a moment.

Remember.

What the people you love will remember…is YOU. That you were there.

That you cared.

They love YOU.

Merry Christmas, all. 🙂

Photo credit: Pixabay

+

Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.

De-Stressing Christmas: 5 Tips

4_De-Stressing Christmas 5 TipsThis year, I’m trying to simplify our holiday season. De-stress Christmas, so to speak. The major reason: I’m seven months pregnant now, but about as big as I was before giving birth to Little G. (That’s right: a smidge uncomfortable.)

So this year, my hubby, Little G, and I are planning for a happy yet laid-back yuletide. We’ve decided to:

1.) Forgo traveling. We were sad to decline invitations to spend a December weekend with friends at a Fredericksburg bed-and-breakfast, and to join Christmas celebrations in Pennsylvania with my family and in Dallas with his. But we’re looking forward to wishing everyone season’s greetings from the coziness of our own space.

2.) Celebrate at home. In our own space, I’m excited to recreate some of the Christmastime menu that my mom has been preparing for my dad, siblings, and other loved ones for more than 30 years now. My mom shared with me her recipes for spinach dip and fried cauliflower, and luckily, we have her homemade lasagna in our freezer from her last visit to San Antonio. Yes, friends, I’m cheating a little with the cooking here, but it will be nice to carry on these culinary traditions with my hubby and Little G.

3.) Decorate in steps. Because this will be our first Christmas at home, we’re decking the halls more than usual, though slowly. By mid-December, we’ll have our tree up, plus our stockings, wreath, and outdoor lights. And one thing I need to take care of post-Christmas: A stocking for Baby G. Lands’ End (and other retailers) begin discounting their stockings and related holiday-cheer items by 50 percent on December 26; I’ve already made a note to self to take advantage of these sales.

4.) Buy presents online. On the topic of shopping, I’m relying on the Internet for the majority of our Secret Santa, co-worker, and preschool teacher gifts. Little G and I have had fun wandering through some stores to get ideas (may I just say, I love the Hallmark store this time of the year?!), but we’re leaving most of the logistics, heavy lifting, and delivery to UPS.

5.) Pass on professional Christmas-card photography. Scheduling a photographer, coordinating outfits, coaxing Little G to smile so that one out of every ten shots will turn out OK … We’ll try again another year, friends. 🙂 I took the lazy mama’s way out and snapped a few shots of Little G on my own, to insert into store-bought Christmas cards. I love giving and receiving season’s greetings, and I equally enjoy browsing through the designs at Shutterfly and Minted … this year will just be a little less creative than others.

Tip: For quick, good-quality prints, Walgreens is my go-to store.

Have you ever felt compelled to simplify your holiday season, friends? Why? And what are your de-stressing tips?