Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas Memories 3 – Presents!

I love getting presents. You can’t insult me with too many of them either. The best presents I ever got were from my husband of 33 years. He loved to give me jewelry and electronics. He almost never gave me clothes because the time or two he did I had to take them back and he hated that. He’d give me nightgowns, robes and houseshoes instead. One year he gave me a complete Cannon A-1 camera and all the bells and whistle attachments. I was stunned and thrilled. He said if anything happened to him and I had to work that maybe I could become a photographer.

He called me his ‘teddy bear’ and gave me hundreds of bears and bear related items over the years. All my friends and kids gave me bears too. I have display cabinets full of bears. Since his death I started collecting police memorabilia and my favorites of those are bears that are also cops! I need to add on a room just for my collections! It all goes hand in glove with my excessive-compulsive character quirks.

But I digress, the topic was supposed to be about CHRISTMAS presents. When I was young I got lots of dolls. Every year I got a doll and haven’t kept a one of them. I had dolls that cried ‘momma’ and wet themselves. They ate food and almost walked around. They were my confidants and friends. I had tea parties with them and spanked them when they misbehaved. To my Mom’s credit she would also give me some of the stuff I asked for… a microscope! I remembered sitting for what seems like hours trying to prick my finger so I could look at my own blood. NOW it’s nothing to prick my fingers for blood glucose testing, but I also have a handy, dandy pricker tool to use instead of the bare needle back then.

What I always wanted was a BB gun and an Erector Set. My brothers got those and I never did. I asked and asked, but that wasn’t gender appropriate…..they didn’t use those words (NO ONE USED THOSE WORDS BACK THEN!) but the message was loud and clear just the same. You are only a girl, you can’t have manly toys. So one day I married my prince and HE gave me guns! By then I didn’t need an Erector Set as I was into the baby making process and that’s all the construction I had the time or the energy for! I also inherited his Red Ryder BB gun and it’s an awesomely accurate piece of metal. To this day I’d rather hang out in a computer store or an office supply store or a gun store than any of the gender specific frou-frou shops!

The one thing I remember the most about my husband was how much he loved to give gifts. He’d get so excited he’d want me to open his gifts the minute he had them wrapped. The kids would be jumping up and down wanting to open all theirs early and he would be jumping up and down wanting me to open all his first. We’d allow the girls to open one present early and usually one more on Christmas Eve, but I wanted to wait and make Christmas Day special. We’d let the kids tear into theirs first and then it was our turn. I’d give him a present and he’s day ‘open that one’ and I’d say ‘open yours first’. The kids spent every Christmas watching us opening presents. Mine took forever to open because there were (are!) always so many. I’m surprised the kids don’t hate me to this day!

I love to give presents too, but I hate to shop. I don’t ‘do’ the mall. I prefer online shopping or just giving them green. I make fudge and sometimes chocolate chip cookies and those that I love the most get those to sweeten their gifts. I’m trying to cut back on the goodie making this year, but the whining has already commenced so I broke down and bought the ‘makin’s’ for a select few to appease their sweet tooths.

It’s taken me most of my life to realize that the joy in giving gifts is in the giving. What someone does with that present once it becomes theirs is their business. My husband never wanted anyone to part with anything he gave and I can appreciate that sentiment, but if you give a gift freely then it should be without any strings attached. You shouldn’t get all weirded out if someone doesn’t quite treasure your treasure the way you do. Your job was in the picking out and giving, now it’s their job to decide if they want the gift or can use it or if they want to return it or put it up on EBay or sell it at the next garage sale. It should not be a slap in the face or rejection of you as a person. It’s a difficult concept to embrace through, I’ll give you that.

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