My absolute most favorite memory of Christmas comes from my childhood with my mom. She would make tons of cookies every year. Looking back, I am amazed at how many different kinds of cookies and bars would emerge from the kitchen during Christmas time. It is especially neat since she admittedly does not relish cooking. Most of the cookies she’d made would be arranged on plates, wrapped in plastic, and given away to various people.
The meaning of Christmas is about expressing our love. We use gifts to express some of that love we feel, yet we need to make sure that we do not lose the true intent. It becomes so easy to get sucked into the retail propaganda that we need to find that perfect gift, we need to spend a certain amount of money, or even give a certain quantity of items.
Remind yourself of your most cherished memories; think about what you would want your children to remember when they get older. As lovely as getting a great gift can be, and I have fun memories of waking up to a glorious 10-speed bike with a giant bow in front of the tree, this is not what I remember most fondly. Nor do the happy memories of gifts given warm me more than the wonderful plethora of cookies.
In talking about expressing our love at Christmas and the connection that has with giving and receiving gifts, there are a couple of things to think about and keep in mind while we finish the shopping and wrapping.
One, we have all faced the temptation to get that special gift for a loved one. One memorable occasion when I was a teenager, I wanted to give my mother a Hummel, since she loved them so much. My eyes were bigger than my appetite with that one – and bigger than my meager savings from my allowance. I had high plans to save up $300 so I could get it for her. Somehow, I never did pull that off, yet in looking back at it now, it was just a symbol. It was this thing to express the depth of my love; only it was just a thing.
Two, as I consider the powerful memories of holidays past, one year I received this incredible gift. The cost of it had to be negligible since it was paper and plastic binders, yet it speaks to the power of thoughtfulness of the giver. The gift was of my poems; typed up, titled, with a table of contents and a copyright symbol, presented to me as books. Ah, the teenage fantasies of fame, and regardless how time has changed my perspective, it was truly a wonderful gift.
These stories illustrate how the emotion is the bottom line. I wanted that “perfect” gift because I thought it could communicate how I felt better than I could; yet, the thoughtful gifts are most profound. The heartfelt expression of love has the most meaning, and no amount of money or quantity gathered under the tree can compare to a gift from the heart.
Thinking about the things that speak to you most deeply from your past, those Christmas memories that you would not trade for any gift, can inspire you on how to spend this Christmas and all the ones to come. You’ll realize what you want to create for your family and practice experiencing Christmas for what it is meant to be. When you do, you focus less on the actual items, can stick to your budget, and are less likely to get caught up in the purchases. Like Thanksgiving, it is about the experiences, not in trying to create a perfect day.
What are you going to do to create wonderful memories this year?