Of Gifts and Love and Family

First, a bit of anthology news. Kit Campbell, the author of the anthology’s spring story, has a post up about the genesis and evolution of her story.

Just a reminder — Seasons Eternal is available in paperback (and it’s a very pretty book; I’ve seen it!) or the ebook format of your choice. All the info is on the Turtleduck Press website, here.

As Christmas approaches, I find that I’m missing my family a lot. My family of origin, I should say, because I won’t be alone — I’ll be celebrating with my husband and my in-laws, for the first time in our own house. This isn’t the first year I’ve been away for the holidays, either. Maybe I’m missing them particularly because I’m thinking about creating traditions. Or maybe I miss them this much every year, and I’ve just forgotten.

When my siblings and I were little, we used to meet in the hallway well before sunrise on Christmas Day, and creep down the hall so we’d all see the living room at the same time — the tree already lit, casting a multicoloured glow on the heap of wrapped presents beneath. That moment was one of my favourites, because anything might be in those gifts.

We’d open our stockings first — cooked up as a ploy by our parents to enable them to sleep in just a little longer. The stockings always included baggies of cereal and Christmas oranges. By the time we finished breakfast, our parents were awake and the unwrapping could begin. Whoever sat closest to the tree got to be Santa’s helper and pass out gifts that we’d take turns opening, prolonging the anticipation.

Afterwards, surrounded by new books (oh, and sometimes things that weren’t books…), we’d curl up contentedly and read the day away until turkey dinner time.

Gifts in my family tend to be modest, but carefully chosen; say what you will about commercialism, but I’m delighted when I find a present that I know will make the recipient’s eyes light up. For me, gift-giving is an expression of love. I don’t feel pressure to be extravagant and spend too much, but I do feel pressure to find (or make) the perfect gift. The one that expresses the connection between giver and recipient. (Which is why I’m not a big fan of gift cards. But I might cave this year.) Of course, that road leads to craziness…but I still try.

Of course, Christmas isn’t really about presents. It’s about people. We had Boxing Day dinners with extended family. When my parents divorced, we had two Christmases on consecutive days, often involving two turkey dinners (or a turkey and a ham). After my husband and I started dating lo these many years ago, we sometimes had three Christmases. I have fond memories of all of them. They all involved being together with loved ones, sharing a feast and family traditions, no matter the permutation of family.

And that is something I will have this year. It’ll just be a new permutation.

Besides, I think I’ve found some pretty great, ahem, expressions of love this time.

How do you feel about gifts and Christmas?

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2 responses to “Of Gifts and Love and Family

  1. Hmm…as a person who both dislikes clutter and also rarely has any money to spare, I LOVE getting gift cards. I’m quite difficult to buy for, so I’m always delighted to land a Starbucks card rather than yet another home decorative item I have no room or use for. It’s certain that I’ll donate and forget the covered candy dish and the cloth napkins and such, but I’ll savor a splurge-y cup of coffee and think good thoughts at the person who made it possible.

  2. Good point. Thanks for the alternative perspective, KD!

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