Tag Archives: Christmas gifts

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Party On!

Father, when this group of old friends gathered for our annual Christmas luncheon, we felt ancient.

Maybe because I gifted each–including me!–with a lighted magnifying glass?

But OMG, even decades of friendship can’t compare with our someday forever party with You!

Classic Post: Christmas Tree Chronicles

This post first appeared on December 2, 2020.

Do you remember that first Christmas tree you, as an adult, hauled home?

Maybe you and your beloved cut a fragrant evergreen at a Christmas tree farm amid silvery snowfall.

Or you procured a Charlie Brown escapee or spent precious dollars on a Salvation Army find.

I wish we, as newlyweds, had considered those alternatives. We’d saved $50 for Christmas. Total. We possessed no lights or ornaments. We spent our bankroll on family gifts instead.

However, neighbors offered bottom branches removed from theirs. Humming “Deck the Halls,” I accented the pine-scented boughs with little red balls.

Voilà! Christmas!

The next year, I vowed to have a tree, though possibly decorated with popcorn strings and spray-painted macaroni — and the red balls.

My sister-in-law to the rescue: “Why didn’t you tell us you needed Christmas stuff? Mom gave us bunches.”

How I celebrated that tree in our government-subsidized apartment! We’d never go without one again — though some Decembers proved more adventurous than others.

Later, when Hubby was training day and night at a hospital, I stuffed our Christmas tree into our only car’s trunk.

Whew! Now to drag it downstairs to our basement apartment. Except, where were my keys?

With the tree. In the trunk.

Did I mention I was pregnant?

After a grand tour per city bus, I finally arrived at Hubby’s hospital. They paged him: “Dr. Phillips. Dr. Phillips. Your wife locked her keys in the car. Please report to the front desk.”

He displayed zero Christmas spirit, but he handed me his keys. After another city tour, I drove myself and the tree home.

Little did I know what Christmas tree tribulations awaited me as a parent.

The following year, Hubby and I set up the tree in our daughter’s playpen.

Why didn’t we corral her instead?

Child-raising theories then advocated free-range offspring. No dastardly playpen for our baby.

As our family expanded, Christmas ideals shrank to survival for us, the kids, and the tree. Trying to hide it from rampaging toddlers, we moved the tree to different locations each year. All in vain. Our son’s destructo gene zeroed in. I covered the tree’s lower branches with harmless ornaments, hoping he would eat those.

He climbed it.

To this day, I don’t know if our son consumed broken ornaments. He is 30-plus now, so I guess the destructo gene was linked to another granting him an iron stomach.

This year, our empty-nest tree mostly fears my smacking it with the vacuum. With no inkling of its predecessors’ sufferings, it basks in gentle serenity, glowing with lights, tinsel and memories.

Unnoticed little red balls, polished by 47 Christmases, still shine.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What Christmas-tree tale can you tell?

For My True Love

Image by geralt from Pixabay.

Have you spent endless hours seeking Christmas gifts for your Numero Uno?

We search stores. Dig through photos, files, and websites for unique gifts that say, “I love you.” Right, guys?

We’re all inspired by “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Mr. True Love went all out to find his sweetheart’s presents. Five gold rings notwithstanding, though, romantic zeal doesn’t always translate to gift-giving know-how.

Our first Christmas together, my true love gave me gloves. Hairy-looking, mottled red and gray gloves, the like of which I had not seen before, nor have since. Later, I learned his mother, terrified her 17-year-old was hurrying into something serious, had suggested a pair.

He should have asked her help.

My future husband’s gift-giving impairment didn’t surprise me, though, because my father was the world’s worst. The oh-is-something-happening-tomorrow? thought never occurred to him before Christmas Eve. Second, penny-pinching Dad comprehended zero about Mom’s preferences.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay.

Around age 10, I noticed their annual conflict.

Dad bought Mom a blue eyelet dress, perfect for running through daisies.

“Pretty!” I cheered. “Like the ones the eighth graders wear!”

Mom grated, “I’m not in eighth grade.”

True. Most eighth graders didn’t have five children. And even I saw the dress was four sizes too small.

The following year, Dad bought her a practical gift. A slip the size of your average city bus.

After 25 years of bombing, he finally welcomed his daughters’ help in choosing Mom’s Christmas gift.

My husband learned much faster. Now he’s so good, he should teach gift-giving lessons. Hubby could have helped the guy who teased his girlfriend one holiday season, insisting he’d give her an iron.

Image by stevepb from Pixabay.

She responded with cute giggles.

He purchased a super-cheap iron, gave it away, and packaged a romantic gift in the box.

She unwrapped it. No cute giggles.

He spent the rest of Christmas trying to persuade her to: Open. The. Box.

If it’s the thought that counts, a traveling salesman’s wife blew that aspect. She gave him a week’s supply of socks, all dotted with her portrait.

Having dissed all these givers, I tried to be fair, asking Hubby, “What Christmas gift for you did I blow?”

He shrugged. “None I remember.”

None? Our relationship has spanned almost five decades.

I threw my arms around him. “You’re so forgiving!”

“Forgetful’s probably the word.”

“At our age, same difference.” I hugged him again.

During the holidays, I often lie awake. Did I buy the teens’ gift cards from stores that will ruin their reputations for life? Are the in-laws allergic to blue? Do little ones’ toys contain kryptonite?

Hubby’s forgiving/forgetting my Christmas miscues is the best present he could give me.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s the best/worst gift your spouse has given you?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Not Everyone’s Martha Stewart

Lord, amazing that I not only have chosen most of our gifts, but Hubby and I are wrapping them. His packages, with their economic use of paper and perfect creases, could grace a Christmas photo layout. Mine, however, always look bumpy and lumpy. OMG, it is the thought that counts, right? Even if the love looks lopsided?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Even Better in January

O Lord, Thank You for our thoughtful children and their spouses, who together gave us this  firepit for Christmas. Maybe they thought we would wait until summer before making s’mores? OMG, You know better. 

      

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: No Tracking Needed

O, Lord, I hope all the gifts I ordered arrive on time. Um … exactly what did I order? But OMG, when You sent the greatest Gift of all, Your Son, You knew exactly what You’d given. You got Him in the right place at the right time — even without Amazon Prime.

Big Bear

When our daughter was born, I splurged on a pink teddy bear whose music box played tinkling lullabies.

I placed it in her line of vision. “Honey, she’s singing to you.”

Baby appeared more interested in shiny doorknobs.

Even as she grew, she took little notice of the prissy teddy.

Several years later, her kindergarten class planned to celebrate Teddy Bear Day, bringing their little buddies to school.

When I suggested Callie take her prissy teddy, she rolled her eyes, but hauled the bear in her backpack.

After school, an odd sight met my eyes. An enormous teddy bear ambled toward me, underscored by thin, little legs.

“Big Bear wanted to come home with me,” Callie explained.

“But — it doesn’t belong to you.”

“Teacher said we could exchange bears for a week. Sarah took mine, and she let me take him.”

Big Bear made himself at home in Callie’s appliance-box house. He starred in made-up plays and musicals. At bedtime check, I did a double take.

Twins in Callie’s bed?

I often messed up carpools. Had I lost track of how many children I’d birthed?

No, Big Bear was bunking with her. Relief poured through me, relief that soon vanished as her tiny arm curled possessively around his large, furry body.

Soon, I had to say, “Honey, Big Bear has to go home.”

Callie stared at me with sad, dark eyes, but returned him.

Christmas was coming soon. Usually, the Santa at our house frowned on extravagant gifts. But when I encountered Big Bear’s cousin at Kmart, I brought him home.

Hiding him from Callie was like concealing a body from the FBI, but the wide-eyed grin that greeted him Christmas morning made Operation Big Bear worth it. In no time, he was singing in basement Broadway productions and snuggling with Callie at night. He smiled from her bed every day.

When she married, Big Bear moved with her to her new home.

One recent weekend, Callie’s ferret-fast son and I were engaged in a pillow fight. Desperate for ammunition, I grabbed the nearest soft object.

Big Bear.

My opponent took gross advantage of my surprise and knocked me flat. Big Bear, ever the sympathizer, stayed by me.

Despite a missing eye, Big Bear had survived little-boy love and numerous pillow wars. Judging by his purple-stained face, someone must have fed him jelly doughnuts — which explained why he appeared as flabby as I. He’d lost padding, though, which I’d found. Not fair.

Still, Big Bear’s presence was strangely comforting. Did Callie — now a strong, loving woman — still sneak moments with him?

Kindergartner, teenager, mom or grandma. Sometimes, we all need a Big Bear hug.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you still cherish a childhood stuffed animal?

Online Santas

The day after Thanksgiving, a friend’s Facebook post evoked 93 envious comments, four offers of psychological help, and a death threat or two. What elicited such passionate response? She dared reveal that she’d wrapped the final gift on her list.

I gave serious consideration to the last reaction, but one of her gifts may be for me.

Like many today, she’d viewed an amazing variety of gifts online.

If a guy craves a purple monkey wrench with a peace sign, he can open it Christmas morning. Those seeking bedroom slippers find pairs online that could fit a native of Neptune, let alone, hard-to-please Uncle Ralph.

Five-inch-thick toy catalogs once dragged home from the mailbox no longer limit little ones’ choices. Now, children who navigate cyberspace better than their parents explore infinite Christmas Wish websites. Some “accidentally” hit purchase buttons without their folks’ knowledge — until five semis dump 42,111 teddy bears singing “Feliz Navidad” in Chinese on their doorsteps.

Internet shopping also promotes less driving. No coats, mittens or car seats. No bloodshed over parking spaces. Pollution-belching cars remain home, while bargain hunters apply gas money to bigger and better holiday gifts for others — plus giant screen TVs for themselves.

Virtual store visitors choose gifts anytime day or night. They avoid hostile store clerks who install trapdoors in front of cash registers.

Certainly, online buyers encounter uncooperative sellers — shopping carts that charge double and helpful sites that publish customers’ credit card numbers on Facebook. But if an annoyed Internet shopper assaults her computer, it can be replaced with no jail time involved — unless she shoplifts one.

Online purchasers avoid traditional Christmas brawls when stores run out of Preschool Techno Marbles or Uber Dogcatcher Barbie. Nor do they wait in line behind 76 other customers, only to discover the computers are down. An online shopper can experience similar computer fun at home with no wait whatsoever.

Internet customers do risk the unknown. A pan-for-gold set might not come with genuine six-inch nuggets, as advertised. Once, unaware a website’s owners couldn’t count, I received a sweater that sported five arms.

Online shoppers also deal with predators who steal identities. However, I wouldn’t mind procuring a new one. I’ll take a twentyish blonde, size six, with an unlimited credit ceiling, please.

Believe it or not, I later discovered my high-tech friend didn’t stick to Internet gift-giving. She’d not only bought presents at downtown stores and personally wrapped them — she’d made several.

Such inefficiency, when in one evening, she could have selected identical presents for 127 people, had them professionally gift-wrapped, then sent in time for Christmas. This, without ever touching gifts or recipients.

What was she thinking?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you like shopping online? Why or why not?