Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas presents

While busy admiring all the wonderful seasonal banners my fellow bloggers are uploading, I started thinking about Christmas presents, ones I have given and received through the years that have meant more than the usual. It seems like a good time to start telling these stories, as well as hearing some of yours.

Before I do that, though, I checked my blog reader and found a truly amazing story written by a woman in Seattle about her experience of having been struck by lightning (while traveling in her car with her two children). It's on the Cliff Mass Weather Blog. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. (The caption under the first picture has a typo, should say "struck" rather than "stuck.")

Back to Christmas presents. The one I remember the most was actually a lesson in humility. My paternal grandmother, who wouldn't let us call her anything but "Mommy," brooked no nonsense. One year she was visiting us for the holidays, and I remember asking her what she was going to give me for Christmas. I did this to every member of my family; she was no exception. I didn't really want her to tell me but to ask me what I wanted, my crafty way of doing their shopping myself. She told me to stop asking her or I wouldn't get anything but a can of applesauce. I laughed her off, of course, and went around to each person a day or two later with the same question.

One day, under the Christmas tree, we discovered that Mommy had put out her presents. The one labeled for me had the suspicious shape of, well, a can. When I opened it on Christmas Day, thinking she was just playing with me, there was the promised can of applesauce. No attached note saying my real present was elsewhere. I was crushed, but she told me it was my own fault since I wouldn't learn my lesson any other way. Everyone else received "real" presents from her.

All these years later, I remember very few of the presents I have received from anyone, except that can of applesauce, which remains in my memory as the lesson of humility I asked for. It was priceless.


  1. Oh my gosh. What a way for you to learn a lesson. Seems a bit cruel, but she got her point across. I can't imagine doing that to a child.
    Your new banner is really nice.

  2. Not sure I could follow through, but the can of applesauce definitely taught you a lesson. If more parents could follow through with similar lessons, we wouldn't have so many spoiled, self-absorbed, entitlement people running around.

    Again, I am not sure I would follow through.

  3. Mommy was one of the only people that did what she said she would do. You're right, she was no nonsense.
    My most vivid Christmas memories are of you carefully opening your presents, then rewrapping them because you had NO patience to wait until Christmas to find out what you were getting.

  4. Even more than that, Norma Jean, was the ability to act so SURPRISED when I opened them on Christmas morning! No wonder I'm spending the last third of my life trying to become more authentic...

  5. What a horrible thing to do to a child! No wonder you throw yourself from airplanes on a consistent basis?

  6. Wow, Mommy wasn't to be trifled with. My daughters spoiled their Christmas one year by finding their hidden gifts. Just as I did one year as a child. Lesson well learned - none of us did that again.

    I'm impressed you could pull off the surprised part!

  7. Your grandmother was certainly a woman who would stand by her word. A little twisted but a lesson well remembered.

  8. I wish more parents and grandparents could be strong enough to really teach their children valuable lessons.

  9. I don’t think I could give such a present to my grandchildren – maybe I could give them a can of applesauce, but then I would give them other presents too – she did sound like a no nonsense lady.

  10. Awwww DJ, they really did that to you? Anyway I know you have learned something, but you were just a child then, and it is understandable with the elders that kids are just so eager to know what is for them on Christmas eve.

    Well as for myself, I really don't ask and expect any present on Christmas day. But of course, the feeling of receiving a gift was overwhelming happiness. Surprise!!


  11. Thank you for the comments about my crow picture on my blog. I am happy Cornell chose it and hope they fish around on Flickr and find a few more. LOL

    I enjoyed this post about Christmas and the packages. I saw a Christmas tree somewhere that was totally decorated and complete with pop up wrapped packages under the tree. I remember people stopped and looked at it in admiring ways and then wrung their hands after looking at the price -- several hundred dollars.

  12. What a great story. And I'm sure that it did stick with you.
    One of the things my parents did for us was to limit 'Santa Claus.' We grew up somewhat fortunate, financially speaking, and they did their best to keep us from being spoiled while trying to retain the true meaning of Christmas. We were allowed to ask Santa for 3 presents, one larger and two smaller. This was in deference to the 3 gifts brought to Jesus by the wise men. We always received more than those 3 presents, but even after we no longer believed in Santa as a fat man in a red suit we were only allowed to ask for those 3 things.
    It has stuck with me, and I intend to do the same with my children. Perhaps one of the greatest gifts was that my parents knew us well enough to give us fantastic gifts that were perfectly suited to our personalities without us having to tell them what we liked.

  13. That seems a little harsh at Christmas time, especially for a grandma to do.
    I think it would make me dislike applesauce!
    Sunny :)

  14. I kind of echo the sentiments here. Kind of a harsh lesson....


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