Treasured Gifts

I’m not a materialistic person. I agree with the world when it says Christmas is too commercial.

But I think there is something positive to be said for Christmas gifts.

Gifts can be lodestones to memory. I can never relive the Christmases of my childhood. But the memory of certain gifts takes me right back to those holidays. I had a bachelor uncle who lived in California (back when CA was the land of sunshine and dreams). We only saw him every few years, and naturally, he didn’t know us children very well. But every year, he’d send each of us individual Christmas presents. One year he sent me a gold and turquoise pendant watch. Did I want a pendant watch at the ripe age of about 12? Nope. But I knew it was something special. I knew the gift represented his attempt to maintain a connection with us, no matter how tenuous. Though he may not have known what a teenaged girl really wanted at that moment in time, he tried to buy something that looked beautiful to him, something he hoped I would treasure, and something that might remind me of him when I wore it. At least, I attribute all those thoughts to him. And now that he’s no longer with us, I still think of that pendant with great fondness. He was my uncle, and he wanted to do something nice for me. That was the real gift he gave.

My parents started a custom of giving each of their daughters a piece of sterling silverware each Christmas. We chose the pattern, and then added to it on each gift-giving occasion. Did it thrill me to open a spoon? Nope. But by the time I was an adult, I had a full set for 12. Now I look back on those gifts, and I realize they represented my parents’ hope for a certain kind of life for their daughters. One would need to have a family and a somewhat comfortable lifestyle to need a set of sterling silver. Those knives and forks I never used at the time actually represented their hope for my future.

In a similar vein, I recall a boxed set of “classical” albums I opened one year. Mozart, Bach, Tchaikovsky and more. My mother is a trained pianist and always tried, with varying degrees of success, to instill her love of music in her five children. So, while that boxed set wouldn’t have been my choice on Christmas Day, I remember it now with gratitude. What a gift to last a lifetime – the love of music.

Does anyone else have special gifts they remember years later?
Carly Carson


Charlotte D. Margolis said...

I remember one Christmas wanting a diamond necklace more than anything in the world. I told Mom, even though I knew we could never afford one, and she came through (it wasn't a real diamond, but she did what she could). I lost that necklace b/c I wasn't really old enough to treasure something like that, but the memory of how I got it will never be lost.

I woke up Christmas morning and we all gathered around the tree. There were no boxes small enough to be a diamond necklace and I was disappointed. I had hoped that maybe, just maybe, I'd get what I wanted.

All the gifts were opened except this huge box. Mom brought it to me and said it was mine, something I really wanted and she knew I'd love it.

It was heavy and when I opened the box, I found nothing but old newspapers and sweet potatoes. I remember looking up at mom and wondering what on earth was going on. She told me to keep going and so I took everything out and sat it next to me on the floor. And down at the bottom, wrapped up all pretty, was a small necklace box; my diamond necklace. I was so excited and mom got to see my face move from disappoinment, to confusion, to excitement. Isn't that what we all strive for on Christmas morning? To see that the gifts we choose, whether something they've asked for or something we chose especially for them, give so much joy to those we love.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!!!

Carly Carson said...

MWA, it sounds like your mother wanted this to be a memorable occasion. The drama around the package was a good way to fix it in your memory, right? You remember the effort she made and the love she showed. That's a good gift.

ShawnaMoore said...

Great post, Carly :) I'm one who's definitely made fond memories from certain gifts. A tradition my mom started during my youngest years and continued until she passed away gave me some of my most treasured gifts. Each year she would get me a new Christmas ornament. I still have all of those ornaments :) They were all specially chosen and symbolized something from the year that had just passed or focused on something she knew I liked (the beach, sunny days, stars in the sky, etc.)

Happy weekend wishes,


Carly Carson said...


That's such a nice gift. One you'll always have to treasure.

Carol Ericson said...

Such nice gifts and memories. That's really the spirit of Christmas.