Tag Archives: Present

A Different Christmas

Do your holidays cooperate? Occasionally, Christmas thumbs its Rudolph-red nose at me. Sometimes, though, it’s simply different.

In 1958, my family celebrated Christmas in our Mexican mission compound with a bare-limbed, thorny bush.

We dogmatic preschoolers protested, “That’s not a Christmas tree!”

Image by Alexander Kliem from Pixabay.
At a park for Christmas 2020.

With spun-glass angel hair, that odd, but lovely tree and borrowed Nativity introduced a different celebration. Hot-air balloons and fireworks lit the nights. Instead of dime-store trinkets, I received a wooden doll bed made by our handyman. My nine-months-pregnant mother, while sewing baby blankets, made doll versions from scraps. We ate weird sweets. We watched village children scramble for candy showered from a clay piñata my blindfolded dad smacked.

Strange for a five-year-old far from her Indiana home — but what wasn’t to like about candy and presents?

Although, if we’d spent Christmas in Austria, the celebration might have seemed less merry. Masked ghouls, representing Krampus, St. Nicholas’s evil counterpart, stalk city streets, shaking sticks at bad children. Scary for a kid who, despite missionary roots, pushed her little sister around.

Hot chocolate helped keep us warm.

Nearly meatless in Mexico, my family and I would have embraced the Japanese tradition of eating Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas Day.

However, I wouldn’t have savored South Africans’ holiday delicacy: deep-fried Emperor Moth caterpillars.

Bereft of television in Mexico, I would’ve welcomed Sweden’s Christmas Eve tradition: watching vintage clips of Donald Duck. According to one American visiting future Swedish in-laws, nothing can disturb this sacred ritual.

We all have holiday expectations. My missionary family was no exception. We didn’t want a different Christmas!

Grandpa watched the fun.

I didn’t want a different Christmas during 2020, either. I wanted normal, when our children and grandchildren filled the house.

Yet that odd Mexican holiday’s sights and sounds linger, 65 years later.

My parents treasured them too, despite hard times. Mom delivered my 12-pound brother at home.

Dad, who broke the clay piñata with his forehead, suspected villagers controlling it had intentionally smacked the gringo. Despite major headaches and self-taught Spanish, Dad pioneered a church.

The beautiful, thorny Christmas tree embodied that beautiful, thorny year.

Appropriate for followers of a Savior who experienced thorny years.

Image by S. Greendragon from Pixabay.
Even COVID couldn’t stop us from enjoying a special Christmas.

In 2020, Christmas was different.

We Zoomed gatherings. Met family in a park for masked Christmas walks. Pantomimed hugs.

Different. Thorny.

But Christmas 2020 was good.

One I will never forget.

Image by James Chan from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What unique Christmas sticks in your mind?

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?