Christmas isn’t just one day, it’s a month. Especially if you have children, you know what I’m talking about. The standard responsibilities aside — Christmas cards, decorating, shopping and wrapping — there are parties and events to plan for and attend, and dozens of sugar cookies to bake (or buy if you follow my lead).
My youngest is in three parades and one pageant. My oldest informed me between church, school and friends, that she needed no less than six Secret Santa gifts as we walked into Target the other night. I’m so confused, that I posted all of their events and what they need to bring on the refrigerator. Surely, I am going to get mixed up and end up bringing wine to the gingerbread party; the candy decorations meant for the gingerbread houses to the adult party; and the wrapped Secret Santa slinky meant for church to my friend’s birthday party.
All this aside, there was one bright moment among the mayhem this past week. We took two tags off of what my girls call “the giving tree” at church and went shopping for two girls the same age as mine. I gave them each a basket, a total they could spend, and the lists. Each one carefully and deliberately selected gifts she thought her child would want and need.
“Mommy, it says here she needs socks and underwear,” my youngest said, perplexed. “I’m sure her mother put that down, but she still needs to get toys on Christmas morning, or else she’ll be sad.”
I agreed with her nine-year-old logic and told her it was OK to go over the total a little, but she needed to be adding up her purchases as she went along. Really, this was more about a good math exercise than prudence.
Amazingly, neither girl asked for anything for herself even though they both believe that Target is the center of the retail universe where all cool things are sold. We went a little over our agreed upon total, but I was proud of the thoughtful choices they made.
“Mom, do you think she will like these?” my older daughter asked, holding up the clothes and jewelry she had chosen for her young teenager.
The best part: When we got home, I told them they were going to get to wrap their own gifts. My youngest has just learned to wrap, and was very excited by this news. The actual wrapping was a little harder than she expected, but she did an excellent job, nonetheless, given her tiny hands and inexperience. Needless to say, we are out of tape.
“Mommy, can I write her a note?” she asked me hopefully. I thought for a minute how I might answer this question diplomatically without hurting her feelings.
“Sweetie, we can’t do that because the parents may want these gifts to come from them if they don’t have much to give their children on Christmas. That’s what this is all about, helping families who may not have much money to buy gifts this year,” I said gently, hoping my answer would suffice. She looked thoughtfully down at her pile of wrapped gifts and then back up at me.
“I guess that’s OK. As long as she’s happy on Christmas morning when she opens her gifts, and I know she will be!” she said, smiling as if the pile of gifts were hers to open.
And that, my friends, is the type of Christmas moment that makes even an old Scrooge like me melt a little bit.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.