Family Center - A Trucker's Wife

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Feliz Navidad! Happy Kwanzaa! These and many more sentiments ring out this time of year as we all hurry and scurry about trying once again to make the "perfect" Christmas.

I actually had another article written and all ready to submit, a parody on an old Christmas children's story, but a good friend mentioned to me that there are actually several versions of this story already in print. I looked, and sure enough there were many. So, I decided to switch directions and focus on some of my own memories of the holiday season.

I remember Christmas time as a little girl when my mom would start baking and hiding goodies weeks before the actual day. Back in those days, people used more practical containers to store things in rather than the cute and colorful containers you can buy at the stores today. Mom used to store huge coffee cans full of Fantasy Fudge in the strangest places. I remember finding those cans in the freezer, in closets, even once in the towel cupboard. She would hide those things anywhere to keep her sweets-loving family from devouring them all before our family celebrations took place.

What family celebrations those were, too! Both my parents came from families with six kids, so when we had family, I mean we had F-A-M-I-L-Y! I grew up in a huge, old rambling farm house on a huge cattle farm in southeastern Nebraska. When we worked, we worked HARD. When we had celebrations, we celebrated BIG! Gifts were always plentiful. Food was...oh, my gosh....never ending.

I remember those days so fondly, and wonder sometimes where those days went. It's been way more years than I care to count since those childhood days on the farm and my own kids are very nearly grown.

Still, every year as the holidays roll around I find myself making list after list of things I want to accomplish. I want to create the "perfect" Christmases for my kids and husband that I remember from my childhood. I rarely ever accomplish all the things on those lists. Do my kids notice? NO. Does my hubby notice? Never. What they do notice is when I get so obsessed with my own ideas of perfection that I forget to take the time to stop and smell the sugar cookies, so to speak.

Last year I was suffering from some medical problems and because of those problems, actually getting out and doing any real shopping was nearly impossible. Likewise, my usual frenzy of Christmas baking went by the wayside. I made probably a tenth of the things I usually make. My family didn't notice, nor did they care.

I was feeling really less than successful as a mom when Christmas Eve morning rolled around and the usual stack of gifts under the tree was more like a small sprinkling of gifts. In a sudden fit of desperation I looked around for the box of construction paper, markers, etc., that I keep for little visitors. I found these and sat down and made three identical certificates, one for each daughter. Those certificates were for a day of shopping at the mall, with Mom picking up the tab (for a certain amount--even I'm not goofy enough to give them an unlimited budget). Included in this day was a long lunch, just us girls. The kids were happy with the certificates at the time. But my payoff came on the actual day we spent together. That day, a few days after the New Year began, was Christmas in every sense of the word.

My kids and I spent the most wonderful day together we've spent in ages. I had use of one of those motorized scooters to get around the mall with and, oh my, that was an experience. I almost single handedly dismantled a nationally recognized lingerie store. I got the scooter stuck on jackrabbit instead of turtle and almost got a speeding ticket from the mall security.

We lingered over lunch for two and a half hours. We tried on outrageous clothing. We sprayed more perfumes than any four people should spray in a lifetime. In short, we did exactly what I think Christmas is all about. We loved, we laughed, we lived. And at the end of the day, I knew that this was a gift none of us would ever forget.

The girls asked me if we could do the same thing again for Christmas this year. I don't know if this year's expedition will live up to the first one or not, but I do know this much. I learned a really valuable lesson. It's not a big glittering gift that always makes the memory of Christmas special. It's the heart in the gift. Here's wishing you a holiday from the heart.