Dear Mom and Dad:

You said that you weren’t exchanging gifts this Christmas because you simply can’t afford it any more. Well, that’s OK with me, but I’m still going to buy you a gift. Your gift to me can be to accept it. I think about all the years of gift giving that I’d have to do to catch up with what you have given me. I could never pay you back for all you have given me, beginning with my life itself.

The way I see it, you have fifteen to twenty years at a bare minimum of giving me Christmas gifts before I ever even tried to buy you something with my own money. How can I buy something to equal the gift you gave me of my first Christmas? I still have the angel off my first Christmas tree, but I can never create the love that you gave me. How do I wrap that up and give it to you?

Dad, how do I repay you for the toy chest that you built for us one year? I seem to remember that it was light colored wood, and that Mom painted something on the top of it. Wasn’t it a squirrel in red paint? I could never give you anything equal to the love and work that went into that project.

Mom, you may not still dress dolls for me to put on my bed, but you can never erase the memory of the ones that you did make for me. I can close my eyes and see them with their bright colored full skirts and a little wisp of a hat perched on top of their heads.

I remember the year that the tree wasn’t too steady and Dad had to tie it to the front door to keep it from falling over. I remember the year that the family room wasn’t quite ready and we had Christmas there anyway. We chopped the tree up after the holidays and burned it in the fire place. It saddens me to think that you won’t be here with me forever, so I just make the best of what time we do have left together.

It tickles me to buy food from the Schwan’s truck and bring it to you and tell you that I was cleaning out my freezer. Were you aware that I used to buy you things and knowing that you would think I paid too much for it, I would take a red pen and cross out the price and mark it down before I showed it to you? Yup! I’m guilty of that too. It was always something that I really wanted you to have and knew that you wouldn’t enjoy it if you knew how much it had cost.

I remember Grama’s gifts that we found tucked in her drawers after she died. Sweaters with the tissue still wrapped around them; Nighties with price tags on them. Gifts that she received that she didn’t really need and was saving for when she did. I don’t want to give you things to keep wrapped in tissue until you die.

I want to buy you rolls of paper towels and hide them in your closet for you to find when I am not there. I want to take you shopping with me buy you things that I know you won’t spend the money on for yourself. I want to bring you things that you need but keep forgetting to buy.

So, I repeat — you can give me the best Christmas present in the world. Just accept me and my gifts, graciously, and without a thought for how much it cost me. I want to give you back some of the unconditional love that you have given me over the years and hope that it means as much to you as your love means to me.

I love you
Copyright Shaywardncr December 4 1999