Thursday, December 18, 2008

Giving is addictive

I love to give things to people. I like buying gifts, because if you pay attention people always tell you what they'd really like.

My best Christmas memory as a child was the year I was nine years old and helped my dad pick out a gift for my mother. My mom and I had been shopping earlier in the fall when she saw a coat at Sears that she absolutely fell in love with. It was beige suede with a beige mink collar, and it was beautiful. It was also expensive.

I don't remember how it came up, or how it came to be that my dad decided he could afford it, but I remember being so proud that I could go with my dad to the Sears store and show him the exact coat that she wanted. We bought it, had it wrapped at the gift wrap counter, and stopped at the candy counter on the way out.

When my mother opened the gift she screamed with happiness -- I've never forgotten the look on her face. I was so happy and pleased that I was such a "grownup" and helped my dad make her Christmas special. My mother wore that coat until I was grown and gone to college even though the thing was practically disintegrated.

I thought about that great feeling when I went to the grocery store last night with my son. We were buying canned food for the food drive at his school, and he was excited. We picked out about four grocery bags full of stuff -- canned veggies and fruit, instant mashed potatoes, chicken and dumplings, etc. My son was very careful about picking out some things that he thought other kids would like -- spaghettios and chicken noodle soup, and of course mac and cheese.

As we checked out and loaded the bags into my car, he smiled goofily and said "Mom, I feel so GOOD that we did this." It brought tears to my eyes. I hugged him close and told him I knew just how he felt, and we went home.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Feh the halls

OK, put the tree up. Got the wreathes. Decorated stuff. Feh.

My heart's not in it, and I don't know why. If I didn't have kids I'd skip the whole thing.

But I do, and they make it worthwhile. My sweet son put on his fuzzy reindeer antlers and helped me decorate the tree and sighed with happiness when it snowed. We will bake cookies this weekend and get out the frosting and the colored sugars and make a glorious mess all over the kitchen. My daughter sings carols in her baby voice and tells me that if we don't have money for presents that it's OK with her.

I suppose because the mood of the country is so bad, it's affecting everyone. Millions of jobs lost, children sliding into poverty and hunger, and a man loses his life because of a stampeding mob at Walmart. How can I focus on shopping for gifts when the world is such a mess?

My kids are safe in the snow globe I have built around them: a comfortable home, school, basketball practice, homework, friends. But that snow globe isn't the real world any more than Christmas makes everyone loving and giving. There are days I want to give all my money away and live in a cave, but who would that actually help?

Anyway. I think I'll write a check to my favorite Christmas charity and offer up my heart to the universe, and see what happens.