My husband and I have a Christmas tradition. It was born out of our lack of money (see post on Hurricane Wilma), but it is my favorite tradition of the Christmas season. Just after Thanksgiving, we go on a date to Starbucks. He orders a venti chai (no water) and a coffee cake. I order a grande non-fat, peppermint hot chocolate (with the whip for once) and a cream cheese danish.
There we sit with our special Christmasy red hot cups and a pad of paper (the kind with the lines on it that real estate agents leave on your door). We write down a list of the people on our hearts. That, of course, includes family members, but also includes friends, even acquaintances, who are weighing heavy on our minds–especially any that have been hurtful or difficult in some way, whether they know it or not. We consider each name and ask ourselves one question, “What do they need?”
This is a harder question than it sounds. It isn’t the same as “What do they want?” And, really truly knowing what someone needs is pretty tough. We’ve all been there, right? Where people think they know what we need and it couldn’t be further from reality. So we are very careful with this question. Sometimes it is really less about what they need and more about what we need to do to be a better friend, daughter, son, uncle, sister, coworker,…..[fill in the blank] to this person.
As we consider each name we try to come up with a gift, often a secret gift, and surprisingly it usually costs little or no money at all. Occasionally, our ideas are actually physical gifts you can wrap and put under a tree. But more often then not, they are special actions we deliberately take during the Christmas season or throughout the year.
Christmas has been tough for me over the past 10 years. It has been hard not being able to participate in the gift giving to the degree I’ve desired. I’m thankful my kids have generous grandparents and have always had a very merry Christmas where toys and games are concerned. I would have been sad if they had missed out on that joy. It is part of the magic of the season and no amount of listening to people harping about how we are all so materialistic will change that. Christmas gifts are fun! There I said it.
At the same time, I’m so glad that tough times led me to thinking about Christmas in a whole new way–a way I look forward to with much anticipation each year. And no matter how much is in my bank account, I’ll never do Christmas without my list again.
Are you on our list? I hope so… and be ever on the lookout for your secret gift.