Kathy Bassett's column, "The View from Maybell," appears in the Saturday Morning Press.
Poor grandpa. He just couldn’t win for losing. Last Christmas, he was feeling his age and found that shopping for Christmas gifts had become too difficult. So, he decided to send checks to everyone instead. In each card he wrote, “Buy your own present!” and mailed them early.
He enjoyed the usual flurry of family festivities, and it was only after the holiday that he noticed that he had received very few cards in return. Puzzled about this, he went into his study, intending to write a couple of his relatives and ask what had happened. It was then, as he cleared off his cluttered desk that he got his answer. Under a stack of papers, he was horrified to find the gift checks he had forgotten to enclose with the cards.
Now I realize that Christmas isn’t just about going out and buying somebody a present! Christmas can be so many things, caring, sharing, giving and loving.
In my own opinion, without these attributes, then Christmas and presents really aren’t worth much. It should be a time for happiness, joy, laughter and lots of hugs and warmth.
And Christmas is not the time to be cheap. I don’t mean that in the sense you should go spend money you don’t have. I’m talking about just not buying anything for someone because you don’t want to spend the money on him or her, you’d rather spend it on yourself.
It reminds me of a fellow I know that was so cheap everyone thought he was a chicken. His motto was that it didn’t matter if it “only cost $1, it was the thought that counted.”
And that was when he was in a good mood.
Several years he didn’t even bother to buy his wife a Christmas gift because he didn’t have time to go shopping.
He is like another guy who roamed the mall and finally settled on an item. When he heard how much it cost, he told the salesgirl that it was, “Too expensive!”
So the lady returned with a similar item, smaller but still rather nice. The man groaned that it was, “Still far too much money!”
Well, the sales girl was beginning to be annoyed at him for being so mean, so she brought out a real tiny item that hardly cost anything. The guy became really agitated and whined, “What I mean is that I’d like to see something REALLY cheap!”
So, the salesgirl reached under the counter and handed him a mirror.
Every Christmas is different. Some years are very lean and mean. Other years are plentiful and huge.
I remember one such Christmas when my daughter was feeling blue because she couldn’t afford to buy presents. She had three babies and things were tight, and I tried to reassure her that she just needed to concentrate on her little family and not worry about everyone else. A card would be just fine.
Well, she got busy and made little things like gift tags, cards, stationary, special candles, jars of jelly.
I can’t even tell you what all she made — she even had her little ones draw pictures.
Then, she took each item, carefully wrapped them separately in gift paper and put them in a huge box with lots of padding and mailed it to me.
So here came a large box with about 20 items she had handcrafted, as well as photos of the girls plus little items like magnets and small items she’d found at discount stores, and I can’t tell you how much fun it was digging through the box and finding each thing. I still have the pictures the little girls drew.
To me, this is the spirit of Christmas. The gift was a gift of love and caring and a huge surprise. I love surprises. I love surprising people.
If this Christmas finds you blue and depressed because you don’t have any money to buy presents, put that ol’ thinking cap on and get busy. You still have a few days.
Make a card. Put a small handwritten note in it that offers a service to someone. Are you scratching your head? Know a shut-in? Offer them a day of your time, which could well be spent cleaning, reading to them, writing letters for them or shopping for them.
Fix a casserole and go share it with a lonely guy or gal. That is Christmas.
You still have five days left before Christmas. Get busy! And above all, hold Christmas in your heart and try to keep it there all year.