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Monday, December 2, 2013

Home for the Holidays

The Gift of the Magi
For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.
Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.
And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest.

                                                              The Gift of the Magi
                                                                              O. Henry

This is the play that was always performed a Crossroads’ (historical) Village when I was growing up. A hundred years ago, the holiday season was not what we know it today. Simple, homemade gifts were given to our loved ones as a token of affection. Christmas started becoming the commercial entity it is really when the soldiers came home from WWII. As the economy picked up, people were able to spend more and give their kids more than they had when they were kids. Then the fifties came along and it became all about keeping up with the Joneses. With each succeeding generation it escalates and it starts to seem that these once beloved holidays are simply one large commercial enterprise that starts in August and doesn’t end until January. Christmas morning often looks like the holiday tree threw up gifts.  And that handmade gift that someone took so long to put together with you in mind? The giver is now told that their time has been wasted because no one wants handmade gifts. Their told, “Give them something that they really want this year”…

A simple gift that says you thought of them.


That MP3 player is not likely to be an heirloom. That new phone? Replaced as soon as the newer model comes out. That must-have toy that you killed yourself getting? Forgotten about within a week.

Think about it. With the exception of maybe a few toys that you REALLY wanted, when you think of your holiday memories do you remember what you got each year? Probably not.

Ultimately the holidays are all about family. It’s about creating shared memories with the people that you love and care about more than anyone in the world. Family can be, but doesn’t need to be, blood. For some, “family” is that group of friends that are closer to you than anyone else in the world. Essentially family is what you make of it.

I was very lucky growing up to have a large extended family. Our holiday tradition included going “up to the farm” to spend time with the great grandparents, grandparents, great aunts, uncles and the multitude of cousins. It was great to be with all these people and have shared stories. We’d catch up on what each of us were doing and what was going on in each other’s lives. There would be clam chowder on the stove in the kitchenette in the basement, mom would bring her lasagna and there would be all sort of other

dishes and appetizers too numerous and delicious to list for all the aunts and uncles. The children would be all excited for we knew that at some designated point in the night, Santa would come to visit our clan and give us the first of our holiday gifts in front of our entire family. My father would become the elected “Santa’s Helper” and call every recipient’s name. While seeing the kids go up was fun, the best was when one of the aunts or uncles were called up and sat on Santa’s lap.

These are the things we remember. These are the things that are important.


So this year look around your community for opportunities to create memories. In our area there are a couple of historical parks, community events and community theatres. Go to your town’s tree lighting event. Go to the craft fairs and pick out something unique that someone handmade. Make it something meaningful. Meaningful is not bought a mall; it’s created with those you love.


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