My family celebrated Christmas on the 11th December, my son's birthday, as he's working over the Christmas period. As my two are now grown up I find it difficult to know what sort of presents to give them apart from money, so these days it's toiletries and a few tales. Here are two we shared this "Christmas" ...
I was about 8 years old and Christmas 1968 was approaching slowly. Our class teacher, Mrs Witherington, was telling us a story about two presents she had received as a child one Christmas. One was an expensive, beautiful party dress from her wealthy aunt. It had frills and bows, as was the fashion at the time. The other present was a small box of chocolates from her gran, a widow who was quite poor. Mrs Witherington told us that the small box of chocolates meant more to her because she loved chocolates, but the dress felt prickly and uncomfortable. Also, she felt that the chocolates were given with a lot of love. The dress, it seemed to her, was given by someone she seldom saw and barely knew. Though received with gratitude, it seemed it was given as a token requirement rather than a present given with loving consideration of the receiver.
The moral, she said, is that a small present is often given with the greatest love.
Christmas 2016 is approaching. I was shopping with my daughter in a local store, Wilkinson's. She held up a small manicure set and asked, "Would you like this for a Christmas present, Mum? It's only £1."
My eyes pricked with tears.
"That would be lovely. Thank you! Very much!"
It had brought back a memory. I was about 5 years old, living with my parents in Geelong, Australia. I was playing in the house of a friend, Regina. The weather was cold and a small portable electric heater with a single bar provided some warmth. I can't remember what game we were playing, but Regina took a backward step and fell over the heater, screaming as the heat hit the backs of her legs. Without a thought I rushed over, grabbed her arm and pulled her off. Her Mum, hearing her screams,came running. As she tended her daughter I slipped home across the road.
A few hours later Regina's family visited and presented me with a lovely manicure set in a cream leather case as a thankyou for saving their daughter. I was so proud of myself and kept asking Mum hadn't I done well.
A few years later I was sent to live with my aunt in the north of England. The little manicure set had been packed in my suitcase. My aunt took it, examined it and said, "We'll have that."
I felt so crestfallen.
Now, decades later, it felt like it had been returned. (Thanks, Lord!)
Wishing everyone a safe and blessed Christmas x