I’ve been thinking about Christmas for the past little while, as we all have, thinking about the best gift I ever received and what made it so good.
Most of the really exciting presents seemed to come when I was a child: an Easy Bake Oven (which I promptly cut my finger on), a sled, an Etch-A-Sketch, Play Doh, slinkies, a second hand saxophone….
And actually, the best present by far was my two kitties, Rusty and Ginger, given to me by Tool Man when they were kittens. I don’t advocate giving animals as gifts at all, but in this case, I asked for a kitten (he insists that I asked for two!) and I knew what I was asking for. They arrived on Christmas Eve 2009, and now Christmas is also a time to celebrate the anniversary of their arrival.
Still, most gifts are given and forgotten shortly afterwards, in my memory. Everyone of us is different, but what seems to make a Christmas memorable are the people in it.
I can’t remember what I got for Christmas, but I remember going from tree lot to tree lot with my family to pick out a Christmas tree. I remember aunts and uncles and cousins all over the house and the volume of more than a dozen conversations and games being played. I remember our big old oak dining room table (it sat six with ease) jammed with food on Christmas Eve – turkey and ham, pickles, buns, deserts (apparently our cat, in those days, was much better behaved than the brats I’ve raised, who would raid the unprotected food before we knew they were there – all she ever did was eat the tinsel off the tree).
I remember travelling to see Grandma every Christmas Day. She lived in a town that was a 90 minute drive for us. And her Christmas dinners are another story all in themselves, but her oatmeal cookies were the absolute best! No contest. And sadly, no recipe. In the evening, we would travel the almost empty highway and look at the Christmas lights on the distant farm houses.
Christmas presents come and go, but the love of family and friends and the memories that it creates live forever. It’s not what you get for Christmas, it’s who you know and who you share it with.
Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal