28 more shopping days!

Just kidding. Although, it is true; there are 28 more shopping days before Christmas. I’m not sure about the other holidays.

I have had an evolving relationship with Christmas presents. I won’t start at childhood. Okay, I will, because these are really good memories. My dad was a high school teacher and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. We lived in the mountains near Lake Tahoe. In those days we had a lot of snow and Christmas was very joyful.

When we first moved to our house, I was three. We had a long hallway lined with cabinets and windows. My dad strung Christmas lights along the roof line outside the windows, and the snow curved over the roof creating a tunnel. Blue, red, and green flashed and danced in the glassy wall of icicles.

I climbed up on the shelf above the cabinets and marveled at the snow and ice tunnel and the lights, all the while knowing that each day brought me closer to Christmas. On Christmas morning our stockings, which hung on the huge  mantelpiece over the fireplace, were filled with walnuts and tangerines and small gifts, like socks. We opened those first, then moved to the tree. I was the youngest, and hence the most excited about the gifts. Mom and Dad would select a gift from under the tree and give it to the recipient, and then we would all watch while he or she opened it. The morning was wonderful. Later I would call my best friend on our AT&T rotary telephone…yep!…and we would talk about what we had received.

I have a drawing I did from a photo that was taken of my older siblings on Christmas morning when they were coming out to go to the tree and open gifts. This was taken in Berkeley before we moved to the mountains.

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The middle period were all the years as a single adult when I felt that buying Christmas gifts was weird and forced. I couldn’t really figure out having to buy presents for people. I always did, but at the last minute. Resistance is futile! There were nieces and nephews, and that part made sense and was fun.

Then I married my husband, and he had two kids. Christmas turned to holidays as my growing family spanned many philosophies and religions. There were more nephews. My new “kids” were teens, and they brought joy with their sweet selves. We bought them gifts, put up a tree, and they bought us gifts. Christmas was a little like my childhood again. We also had a dog, and she was a lot of fun. Blaze truly understood that she was getting a gift. Of course the kids bought her gifts too. I have some great photos from those days. Here are some drawings of Blaze. (I still miss her. She was a rescue golden retriever, if you can believe anyone would let go of a dog like this.)

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I have close friends and extended family and now I have a grandchild too. Through my family and friends I have re-learned the joy of exchanging gifts. Yes it means going shopping, taking the time to bake and to make, write, and mail greeting cards, and those activities are a lot of work, but they all add up to a season of connection, a special time to express our appreciation, and, where children and pets are involved, joy.

Do you enjoy the holidays? If so, what is your favorite part? If not, how do you take care of yourself and your feelings during this period of time in our culture? Or perhaps you are in a different culture than mine and these are not holiday times yet.

Here is a little gallery of photos I’ve taken in San Diego.