A few days ago I was having a conversation with one of my grown-up sons about our families’ Christmas traditions. After talking for a while he said: “Mum, Christmas is all about the presents”. For a minute I was a little shocked. Having been brought up in a religious family, but not having religiously followed that route I felt momentarily sad, and a little guilty that my son held that view. But then I started thinking about our Christmases as a family over the years, and the joy of our present giving ceremony, and I realized that my sons’ sentence held a lot more meaning than I had at first thought.
I always love this time of year when conversations start to turn to what everyone would like. I have always encouraged my children to either buy or make presents for each other, as well as expecting a present from me or a stocking from Santa. It’s never been a competition, there has never been any expectation to spend a certain amount, but I love the fact that at this celebratory time of the year they all have a reason to stop for a moment, think about one another, and decide what they can give to show their love.
It made me realize that the presents we give to each other are not just about the gift inside, but about the process of giving. We take time to think about that special person, we consider their needs and wants, we talk about it, we shop for it, and then we choose the paper and ‘wrap it in love’. Seeing my Christmas tree surrounded by presents is like seeing all the love our family holds for each other in one place on one day
As a family, we sit down after a scrumptious breakfast and then one by one, each family member gets their presents from under the tree and hands them out to those around them. We wait patiently until the last person has their present then we all open them together. A chorus of thanks is heard, quite often accompanied by a little surprise or laughter at what was inside and at times maybe a few tears. It’s a special time and I always feel a real sense of pride as I see the love they have for each other, expressed in the gifts they are giving.
After a little thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that Christmas might not be all about the presents, but it is definitely about the gift. The gift of love that is expressed through our traditions, whatever religious beliefs we might hold in our hearts, and the gift of a family, who having faced the highs and the lows of the year, take time to wrap each other in love around the Christmas tree.
Love Alison x