Christmas is a time of gifts and memories. Growing up, my wife Peg and I had different expectations at Christmas. I was a single child until the age of fifteen, but Peg was coming from a family of seven children. Gifts abounded in my family. It was always easier than mentioning love, but that was our way of showing it. Gifts in the big Peg family were limited, the sound was not there. However, the gifts from both families were well thought out.
When I wanted hat guns for Christmas, I had hat guns … and of course, a year ago, Santa Claus bought a Shetland pony. When I wanted an English Racer bike, I had an English Racer. When I wanted a record player, I had a turntable and when it was out of date, I had a reel tape recorder.
We recently talked about the Christmas Christmases and our Christmas together.
Peg had two favorite Christmas as a child. One was when she received her doll, Lilly Rose. Peg still loves this doll. Today, he is resting miserably on a small dresser in the hallway. Her hair is brought back to her head like Elsa Lanchester in Frankenstein's Fiancée. Lilly Rose's mechanical eyes are a bit off-kilter, but she looks at me closely as I pass by. I swear the eyes follow me. I think the doll would hurt me if I ever hurt Peggy. I'm not really afraid of the doll, but my pace accelerates.
During Peg's second favorite Christmas, she received a game of Chinese Checkers and a globe. The marbles of the Chinese ladies fit perfectly in their holes. The mark of bad Chinese ladies is shallow indentations that allow the slightest breeze to trigger a marble crush on the set. Peg could play for hours … just like she plays Spider Solitaire on the computer today.
The globe was a very cheap kind of blow-up and she was disappointed, maybe even embarrassed, but those feelings meant nothing to her as her fingers traced distances from one country to another. # 39; other. And I think she loved to dream of all the places in the world that she could visit. Some things never change. In our house next to her lounge chair she has an atlas of the world. She is still dreaming.
In our life together, we both have the same favorite Christmas. Our first Christmas was at our studio on North Yakima. It consisted of a tiny bathroom, a small kitchen and a living room with a bay window that gave us an isolated view of a large hedge and lots of greenery.
Christmas presents were a shock to Peg. Instead of one or two gifts she was used to and expected, I gave her dresses, shoes, jewelry and a number of other less expensive but well thought out and appropriate gifts. When we visited my parents, she received a double dose of gifts. She was overwhelmed.
In retrospect, I was probably wrong to raise the bar of expectations for gifts, but I like to give gifts and really appreciate being able to buy her stuff. My gifts are not just a bunch of gifts. They must be perfect. I always try to find the perfect gift … sometimes I have to explain why they are the perfect gift … sometimes I have to explain it many times, but I always think that they are perfect.
Our other favorite Christmas came when the kids were quite young. Our family was not planned. Our three children were born the first three years of our marriage. Peg was raised Catholic. I was Methodist. She had the rhythm and I had the method. Together … well, the fourth year we discovered planning and bought a duplex near UPS.
That year, we did not have much money. Peg's children received a pasta cooker, which she cherished. Peg and I made gifts for the kids. For all three, I built a puppet theater, while Peg created hand puppets. For Del, the second oldest, I built a western fort, just like Fort Nisqually with cowboys and Indians. For our youngest son Patrick, I built a castle with beer cans for towers and turrets and I painted everything in gray. He also had bags of plastic knights and horses. For Andrea, our eldest and only daughter, I built a dollhouse made from a large turquoise drawer saved from the house that was demolished next door. Peg has gathered small furniture and crochet placemats for the floor coverings. Andrea always has the placemats.
The pasta maker is gone, as are the puppet theater, the puppets, the fort, the castle and the dollhouse. When asked for their favorite Christmas memories, this Christmas is the best for each child … of course, for some Christmas, I was known to have used up electronic games and radio controlled toys even before that they be presented, but # 39; It's another story.
Christmas is a time to give the family … to friends … to the community and to give just the right gift … and good memories.
Of all the gifts we give, I think memories are sometimes the best gifts.