Christmas has always been an amazing time in my world. From the music, to the laugher, to driving the neighborhoods and looking for the best lights…what the holidays often remind me to do is to look around and see the gifts that are already in my life each day…not necessarily the ones that may or may not be under my tree.
From when I was little, I remember my mother always making the season exciting, reminding us each day “if you don’t believe, you don’t receive,” and bringing the magic of the holidays into our home with a twinkle in her eye.
As kids, we always anticipated the big day but to be honest, I don’t remember the gifts that I received when I was young. What I do remember are the empty boxes. Perhaps it was because she didn’t want her kids to come home to a tree with no gifts under it or maybe it was the designer in her that wanted to add more decoration to the house…but we always had the prettiest non-presents wrapped with care under the tree. This seemed perfectly normal in my house…giving us an illusion of gifts to come and reminding us that dreaming was allowed of what might magically fill those boxes one day. Like the Shirley Temple movie, “The Little Princess” when she wakes up on Christmas morning to gifts and warm covers and a roaring fire…these boxes represented what might happen…the possibilities of what could be unwrapped. Simply…the empty boxes contained joy.
Through the years, the Christmas gifts I do remember are the ones that came with care – a favorite poem framed, an airline ticket for a surprise visit, a handmade box, a puppy or the year of handmade gifts. And along with these memories, I remember the empty boxes…
As I grow older, while I love giving generously and also being surprised by gifts…I think I’ve lost some of that twinkle. Christmas is not “unlimited” as it once was before mortgages and responsibilities. It comes with a budget and limits. It’s complicated when you live in gratitude for what you already do have to wrap something to put under the tree that really matters – health, love, time, stolen moments, laughter, tears, hugs, joy… and so much more.
So while we drop out of “Secret Santa” exchanges to pick up a few extra toys to fill other’s empty boxes or add to the food drive to fill other’s empty stomachs, I realize that I need the empty boxes back under my tree this year. Except this year…they won’t be empty and they won’t hit the “limit” on what can be spent. Shhhh…..don’t tell but inside with love, I will add a little piece of paper with different words and wishes that I am hoping for the ones I love in the upcoming year. To the photographer, great moments captured. To the tender hearted, great experiences and confidence of kings. To the lovers, stolen moments and unwavering love from all directions. To all, health, time, and joy. This year, the almost empty boxes will come back under my tree except inside will be the best non-presents of all…my love and wishes for the upcoming year.