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On Being Grateful – And Reese’s Pajamas

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Admittedly, when the idea for Christmas memory posts came up in a studio conversation, I thought this would be a piece of cake. But can you believe I don’t have a single Christmas that seriously stands out?

I definitely don’t remember all of the gifts I was given as a kid. Nor do I remember what we had for breakfast. Or whose house we went to for Christmas dinner.

I remember the small things… like every Christmas Eve my mom would pull aside me and my brother (my only other sibling) and we would open one present. And every.single.year. it would be a pair of brand new pajamas. Her thought? We would not only have the basics and essentials (which aren’t really fun to open), but it got Christmas started early, got us excited, and we were in clean, brand new pajamas for photos the next morning.

My mom sure does sound like a smart lady, huh?

I remember bounding out of bed at 5 a.m., darkness still outside. Waking up both sets of grandparents (who I was blessed to have live in the same house as my mom and dad for the first 12 years of my life). Making coffee. Anxiously waiting next to the tree and randomly shaking presents. Guessing who got what with my brother.

But one memory in particular keeps coming back to me, every year. And it’s not one I’m particularly proud of.

One year, after we opened gifts, my brother and I sat on the ground and tossed the ripped wrapping paper aside. We looked at each other, and then I blurted out, “That’s it?”

The worst two words to ever say to your parents. To your parents on a major holiday. To your parents on a major holiday after you had opened up gifts they gave you.

Even to this day I am absolutely embarrassed to have been that child.

My mom looked at us and didn’t say anything. We started to bring out toys to our rooms. And when we came back she responded, “You didn’t even look in your stocking.” When we did, we found generic Christmas cards with $40 in cash in them. My brother and I were elated. Thanked my parents. And our moods turned.

Looking back on it, I know I hurt my mom’s feelings. I know that she hastily found those cards and shoved cash in them. Hoping to make our Christmas better.

An experience like that has changed me. I know that Christmas isn’t about gifts. It’s not about unwrapping things. Owning more. Or spending money.

It’s about waking up and making coffee. About having 12 Christmases in a row to spend with both sets of grandparents under your roof.

Goodness. Christmas is about so much more now. And I’m utterly grateful to have a family to spend it with. That will forgive me for being an idiot of a child, and respecting our traditions even more today.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. It’s shown me how amazing, supportive and patient my family can be.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and enjoy the winter season!

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