Friday, December 25, 2015

What's The Best Gift You Got Gave For Christmas?

Remember being a kid and the first thing you did when you got back to school from Christmas break was to tell everyone what you got for Christmas? Teachers even made it a classroom exercise to get the wiggles out. We'd all take turns standing and telling just what Santa brought us that made it the best Christmas ever.

But what if we got it all wrong and the question we should have been asking was this, what's the best gift you gave this Christmas? Who were you able to help? What was their reaction and how did it make you feel inside?

I got a new sewing machine for Christmas. It's computerized and will stitch all kinds of decorative stitches--hearts, little leaves, it'll even do basic monogramming. It's great and I appreciate it very much. It was the best gift I got this Christmas. But the best gift I gave was two packages of cheap bologna.

It was Christmas Eve and I was doing some last minute grocery shopping. Everyone was running to and fro in Walmart and I just wanted to get home and get the cooking, cleaning, and last minute wrapping done. As I hurriedly threw my items onto the conveyor belt I heard a woman's voice behind me, "No, I need to put that back. I don't have enough money."

I turned and glanced her direction. She was handing food to the lady behind the register. I put a few more items on my line. Why didn't she have the money? The woman wore cut-off sweatpants and old tennis shoes. She was heavyset but not that much older than myself. I saw her bags waiting for her on the turntable, a gallon of milk, some boxed food, a few cans of evaporated milk--an off brand. I didn't see any toys, no cigarettes, this woman was overextended buying food. It hurt. We'd over bought during the holidays as well but not buying simple groceries. We'd worried so much about getting just the right gifts for everyone, ignoring the price tags. We shopped for our daughter twice after we had said we were done because you're only six once and we wanted to make happy memories.

"No, I don't have the money," she said again, trying to make the lady ringing up her items understand. I dug in my purse and pulled out a twenty.

"Mam," I said. She looked at me with question in her eyes. "Merry Christmas," I said and handed it to her. That's the story of how I got a stranger in Walmart to hug me. It felt good but it also woke me up a little. I was doing the wrong things with my money. Not that buying gifts for the family was wrong but I knew if I had been more careful with our finances perhaps I could have slipped her a bit more and who knows when you're going to meet someone like that again. I hope it's not for a while. I'm broke.

The point I'm trying to make with all my rambling is which story would you rather hear, what someone got or what someone gave? And what are we teaching our kids when we go around asking them what they got for Christmas like it's some kind of contest to see who obtained the most stuff? This Christmas surprise people by asking a different question. What was the best gift you were able to give someone else this Christmas? How did it make you feel inside? Ask yourself, what more do you wish you would have done and what's keeping you from it?

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