This Year I Gave Time for Christmas



“Guest Perspective” Published in the Sedona Red Rock News 1-11-12

This year, I knew we weren’t going to have a spend-crazy Christmas. My husband and I worked out a modest budget, and decided it was best spent on making the holiday memorable for our kids which meant no gifts for the other forty-two family members.

At first I felt sorry for myself. But, after I tore up the letter I started to the President, demanding he abolish Christmas because it’s just a bunch of meaningless hype, I stopped and asked myself a question.

What does Christmas mean to me?

I forced myself to think back through all the Christmas’ I have celebrated to see if I could even remember any of the gifts I received.

I remembered the tie-died t-shirt dress my Dad gave me when I was seven because it was the first gift he actually picked out for me himself, without my Mom’s help. I remembered the iPOD my husband gave me one year, and the diamond necklace – but not because they were expensive, because he put thought into picking them.

I really couldn’t remember too many kitchen gadgets, knick knacks, CDs, stereos or scarves.

Just like Scrooge, my reflection on ghosts of Christmas’ past gave me an epiphany. An old saying I once heard put it best, “The greatest things in life are the people we love, the places we see, and the memories we make.”

For me, drinking Scandinavian wassail with my grandparents, making gingerbread houses with my nieces, or bundling up for a stroll through Red Rock Fantasy all together, are the things I remember best about Christmas.

So, I decided to give a different sort of gift this year. 

The most priceless gift of all. 

Time.

After twelve deaths in our family in three years, I’ve learned the value of such a simple thing as time with my loved ones.

So, I thought carefully about a memory I would like to create with each person and I offered that idea in a small card I gave each one.

My great-Aunt, Dollie, choked back tears when she read that I wanted to spend an afternoon with her sharing our memoirs. I was surprised. It sounded like such a simple thing to give her, but it was the only gift that made her cry. (I have a feeling the super-scrubbing “As Seen on TV” car-washing brush I would’ve gotten her, probably wouldn’t have had the same impact).

When my Mom read her card, she started to cry, too, when I told her how much we appreciate all she does for our family. She said, “Not a lot of people tell me how much they appreciate me. That was the greatest gift you could give me.”

This was the most simple and humble Christmas I’ve ever celebrated, but the gift of time proved to be the best gift I’ve ever given, or received. I had a houseful of people, a huge feast of food (Christmas potluck!), a storm on the stockings by a bunch of happy kiddos Christmas morning, and time with my family that I could never put a price tag on.

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