My childhood living room had a wood burning fireplace on the east side, large windows to the north and a giant checkered mirror at the entrance. It was the perfect place to devour presents on Christmas morning. One Christmas Eve long after Dad had tucked us into bed, my sister Lindsay and I decided to venture downstairs.
“We have to go to the bathroom, Dad!” is what we claimed. We knew if the light was just right and the angle just so, we could see a reflection of gifts in that checkered mirror. That year, we caught a glimpse.
“I saw a yellow sled!” “I saw a large ball.”
Truthfully, I had to give my sister a call to remember what it was we saw.
“Linds, was it a sled? Was it orange or yellow? What color was the ball?”
Lindsay said the ball was “rainbow colored.” She doesn’t remember receiving a sled. Perhaps I made that up? Neither of us can recall the exact details. After a few years, those memories tend to get fuzzy. But what we do remember and will likely never forget is the excitement and the anticipation of Christmas morning.
I had to tell myself to put down the debit card this week. My girls have so many gifts coming their way. Most everything they asked for they will receive. I called my sister this week to sheepishly admit that I purchased too many gifts for my kids.
“Me too, Les!” she responded. I have things showing up in the mail that I forgot I ordered!”
“Why do we go overboard?” I questioned. “I want my girls to have those same memories. I just remember feeling like we received so much on Christmas morning.”
And we did. But it wasn’t overly expensive items and we didn’t receive everything on our list; which would have been next to impossible since I circled every doll, toy and game in the Sears catalog. We received books and candy in our stockings. Sometimes there was a game or a jump rope waiting for us from Santa and when we got older, a rocking chair and a robe. Mom and Dad always gave us a warm bed and plenty of food to eat, but we were a farm family in central Nebraska in the 80s and 90s. We lived on a tight budget just like so many others in our area. Yet, we always felt rich and full of love, especially at Christmas.
I don’t remember feeling any other way.
I tell you this as a reminder for both me and you this holiday season. Gifts are fun to give and get, but the memories aren’t better if the price tag is greater. You know this, I do too. Sometimes we just need a little reminder.
That checkered mirror in my childhood home has long since been replaced. In its spot is a painted wall which fits the décor of 2014. My sister and her family live there now. It’s their first holiday season in that home. When they wake on Christmas morning and walk down the same set of creaky steps, there won’t be a reflection of toys and packages, but I’m certain my sister will remember the feeling. Memories are funny like that. They always seem to make the best gifts.
May your Christmas be merry and bright and full of memories to last for years to come. Merry Christmas from my family to yours!