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Beacon Senior News

Treasure the gifts that matter

Nov 22, 2021 02:14PM ● By Amy Laundrie
Snow flakes form the shape of a Christmas tree set on a blue starry night background and ground of snow

What gifts do you remember receiving as a child? I can recall only a few. Instead, I remember family gatherings, beginning with those at my grandmother’s house. 

Grandma served lutefisk (we kids got to have pigs-in-the-blanket instead of the pungent cod) and great desserts. My favorites were her famous pecan dreams and poppy seed cake. Afterward, the cousins hung out in the basement where we played the card game “Spoons,” which often resulted in scratched hands, squeals and laughter. I treasure the memories of those carefree fun times with family.

I don’t remember what gifts we gave our children years ago, but I do have great memories of venturing out with our hound dog Ginger to cut the Christmas tree. Big brother carried the saw while his sisters, in snowsuits, either hiked or got a ride on the sled. 

My husband always looked for a tree with a straight trunk. I looked for one with a bird’s nest. Once the perfect tree was found, we cut it and placed it on the sled. One year we brought along a harness and hooked Ginger up to the sled. She gave each of the little ones a ride.

Earlier gifts may be long forgotten, but not the magical Christmas morning we skied in Sylvania Wilderness. I remember skiing around a bend where a stand of white birches contrasted against the ice-blue sky. The sunlight caught my daughter’s eyelashes just right, which were frosted in silver.

I can’t recall what gifts I gave my grandsons last year, but I do remember playing in the snow with them. We cross-country skied on a groomed trail and even the four-year-old completed a two-hour loop. We tossed chunks of snow to Josie the dog and she leaped for them, enjoying being part of the fun. In the evening, we built a snow fort which we lit with LED candles so it glowed an orangey-red.

I don’t remember specific details of any Christmas Eve sermon, but I do remember the warm feeling I got walking down the church sidewalk lit by candles glowing under paper bags. I remember my eyes welling up as I listened to a mother and daughter sing “Mary, Did You Know?” and the feeling of community when, at the end, the lights dimmed and one lit candle touched another and another until the whole church was glowing.

Then there was the Christmas Eve service when my family and I did all we could do not to burst out into inappropriate laughter. My son, son-in-law, and husband were asked at the last minute to be the three wise men in the nativity scene. While my son and son-in-law were handed appropriate costumes, my husband received a gaudy king’s robe and a moth-eaten furry hat. 

When he walked down the aisle, trying to appear kingly, we watched from the pew attempting not to burst out into giggles. He couldn’t look at us either. And my son and son-in-law didn’t dare make eye contact for fear they’d break out in laughter. It’s one of my favorite family Christmas stories to tell.

I don’t remember many of the gifts I received from family and friends over the years, but I do remember cheerful greetings, kind words and laughter.


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