When I was growing up there was certain things that you did not do during Christmas. The biggest things were count how many presents you had compared to everyone else or make a remark about the size of your packages compared to others. It was something that my father wouldn’t put up with.
He felt that we should be thankful and appreciative for what we got. It didn’t matter how much or how big it was. He was the type of father that taught us lessons. Ones that would stick with us throughout our lifetime. I will never forget the year that he gave some of our presents away after we had opened them. There were children down the road that had no Christmas. My father had heard about them and decided they would get gifts that year. We didn’t have a lot of money, so he gave them some of our gifts.
He made us give them our gifts. The little girl got my doll that my Granny had made for me. I was so angry with my father and it wouldn’t be until a year later when that I would understand what he did. The little girl who got my doll loved it more than anything she ever got. I know that because she told me. I saw her one day and she had my doll. That was all I could think about. She showed it to me and told me that it was the best present she ever got because it was the only present she had ever received before she came to live with my father’s friends.
Those kids had come on Christmas Eve after being pulled from the worst possible conditions and that doll I hated to give up was her first present. One she received because my father wasn’t a greedy man and wanted to teach us the importance of giving even when we didn’t have much to give. He would teach me another lesson on Christmas when I was a teen.
The year I turned fourteen I broke a cardinal rule. I made the remark that my older brother’s present was bigger than mine. We always had gifts under the tree prior to Christmas Day. Santa would only bring us one or two gifts. We knew the rest came from our parents. I was so upset that Billy was getting a bigger gift. How was that fair?
The next day the biggest box I had ever seen was wrapped and placed near the tree with my name on it. It was almost as big as our tree. I was so excited, but I should have been paying closer attention. That box was all I could think about or see. I didn’t notice that the other smaller gifts with my name on them were suddenly gone.
Christmas morning rolled around, and I had to wait til last to open my gift. I was excited. It didn’t matter all I had was one. It was the biggest one. I ripped the paper off, open the box, and discovered it was full of sticks.
WHAT THE HECK!
Yep! There was nothing but switches (that is what my father called them–if you aren’t sure it’s a whole bunch of thin sticks) in there. It was full to the brim. I looked at my father with tears in my eyes as he told me that the next time I decided to be greedy I should think about that moment and what my greed had got me. I spent the whole day heart broken. That night when I went to bed there was a single present on my pillow. Inside was a book, A Christmas Carol. I’m sure there was another lesson in receiving that book but to this day it is one of my favorite books.
I know what my father did sounds cruel and by today’s standards maybe it was. I never forgot that Christmas. Even now when I think about wanting something and not sharing I ask myself if it will be worth the guilt I will feel. I’m not above refusing to share my chocolate but nothing big. I never counted presents again nor did I make comments on the size. My niece did it a few years ago here. Well I gave her a gift (everyone got one) and she asked me if that was all. It irritated me so much to know that she thought my gift wasn’t good enough. I wondered at the time if that was what my father had felt when I had made that remark.