Love is in the details. At least, this is what most moms believe. We are the ones who will stay up until 3 a.m. Christmas morning baking fresh buns just so that our family has something homemade for Christmas Day. No one asked us. And no one would likely miss it if we didn’t do it. But we love our families and want them to have the best so we forfeit sleep…often.
At Christmas, I often reminisce about my childhood Christmases in Grandma’s house or at home with my mom and sisters. We didn’t have a lot and the focus was never on the gifts. My mom and grandma and aunts were all good hostesses who believed in presentation and homemade happiness.
The trays of goodies were constantly being refilled with shortbread cookies, mincemeat tarts, fruit cake, fudge, butter tarts and bowls of nuts were everywhere. Mom made homemade eggnog with a pinch of nutmeg on top and we would drink them out of the fancy glasses . Grandma had the carols of Christmas loudly playing in the living room as she whistled along in the kitchen making Christmas pudding, pies by the dozens, stuffing that stuck to your ribs and tons of baked goods. She always had an apron on and the laughter, chatter, togetherness was what we all came to expect upon entering her domain.
When I was in my teens, my mom had very little money and we didn’t ever expect to get a lot for gifts. Mom was always practical but sought to make each gift special and individual to each of us. One year I got a fuzzy zip up house coat. Looking back, it wasn’t anything special or extravagant but it was something I wouldn’t have asked for, but needed and loved anyway. There was a digital alarm clock another year and a new purse later on. Mom always stuffed our stockings with essentials like razors, new toothbrushes, Christmas socks, maybe some cheap jewelry or hair clips and always a Christmas orange .
There have been years when we have over-given to our kids. Probably not the smartest thing. In the financially good years we have given snowboards, a violin ,guitar and electronics. On the meager years everyone got a new toque or scarf and a $20 gift card to their favourite store. Sometimes it’s feast or famine around here and we just roll with it. But at the heart of every gift, I want my kids to know I think of them, love them and care about the things they care about. I want Christmas to be restful, fun, joyful and peaceful. We buy a puzzle or two every December to work on through the holidays. I bake everyone’s favourite cookies and the years I’ve missed doing that— well, let’s just say, they don’t let me forget it.
Most of us don’t remember every gift we’ve ever received from our parents. That usually means we’ve been blessed over the years with more than we have needed. But we always remember how Christmas makes us feel- loved, cared for and part of a bigger family unit. This is always my goal- I want my kids to look forward to Christmas as a reprieve from the stress of life and an oasis of joy. So I choose gifts with meaning or thought and I listen to the requests of what they want to eat, the games they hope to play, the people they love to see, the gatherings they hope they’ll be able to attend- this is the heart of a family Christmas.
In 10 years or 20 years, I don’t care if my kids still have the guitar or the snowboard or the toque. What I hope is that they have a memory of the time Mom made their favourite cookies and played Just Dance 4 with them.