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A Counter Cultural Christmas

April 13, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 185

Nearly ten years ago, our family had to open the door to the angel of death. My Mother had passed away from a brain aneurysm. We buried her on January 3, 2001.

A few short years later, we opened the door yet again to the angel when we sold our childhood home and moved our Father into assisted living.

Upon cleaning out the home and discarding the things of this world, for some reason the many pictures and news clippings were saved and landed in my storage closet, to sit until this time last year.

My Mother had a knack for saving the milestones of her 8 children and 11 grandchildren; stacked high in my closet were 20 albums in which she had saved over the 51 years of her marriage to my Father the proud moments of her life. A devoted Mother and wife, the albums were testimony to what she honored - memories made of those in which she had invested her entire adult life.

I'm not sure what prompted me to pull the 20 albums out of the closet. Not known for completing overwhelming projects or living with a mess in my small dining/living area that would last six weeks, I can only attest to divine intervention.

For pull them I did - two weeks prior to Thanksgiving. With Christmas already on my mind, it was done. Decided. Resolved.

I would make 20 piles of pictures and news clippings - one for each child, grandchild, and of course, my then 84 year old father. This would be my Christmas gift to the family.

No spending of money, no purchasing of more things to clutter homes, no buying into consumerism - no, not last year. That year was to be spent reminiscing, offering up time and emotion, being with my Mother and creating a Christmas gift that came from both my heart and that of hers.

The project took nearly two hours out of each day for the following month, after which time, I then selected from the 20 albums which one would go with each person. It was no small task, as many pictures had more than one of the members in it and I had to carefully balance who would receive what, making the giving fair and impartial.

Once that challenge was met, there was the question of what they would be placed in. An easy one to answer, I realized almost immediately that there was no need to purchase new albums. Why not use the old, I thought, creating another symbol and allowing for another walk down memory lane? You see, my Mother kept the albums in a prominent place of the den, allowing anyone who entered to browse through her family history.

After completing the project, I then wrapped them up nicely and mailed them with the request that they not open this gift until the very end of the Christmas unwrapping ritual.

On Christmas morning, My Father and Sister Angela, who were spending Christmas with me, opened their special gifts and amidst tears, were dumbfounded - speechless - overwhelmed by their life placed before them through the love of their wife and mother.

I can't even recall what I received for Christmas last year, although I am certain that whatever they were came from the heart of the giver.

What I do recall is the feeling I had in awakening to the reality that all over the country, from Houston to Memphis, my family members were taking delight in a counter-cultural Christmas - a Christmas gift that had a higher price tag than anything else I value - that of time.

The project cost me nearly 50 hours of time - more than a work week. And if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would welcome the opportunity. For few memories are greater than those moments when the calls came - "thank you, Nicky, for an unbelievable gift - a lasting treasure."

I'm not sure if it made a major difference in their lives, but it certainly reminded me of one of the true meanings of Christmas - a meaning not experienced by spending money, but rather by spending time.

I'm thinking that for the next Christmas gift to my loved ones, I will take them all on a cruise, asking them to avoid spending money on gifts and taking it with them to enjoy with the family.

Because of the price of taking 20 or more (some are marrying) on a cruise, it might be another five years before it occurs. And I say, so? I'd rather look forward to that than to simply spend on the moment.

Retailers will certainly reject my reasoning behind last year's gift, as it does nothing to promote society's values. But then again, many say Christianity is supposed to be counter cultural. Whether or not that is true, I know that such giving fulfilled, nourished, and added to my understanding of Christmas.

You might be asking, "Did you make an album for yourself of your memories?" to which I respond, "No". They're all stuffed in a box in the same closet, to be pulled out on Black Friday. When everyone else is looking for bargains, I intend to spend it with my Mother and her memories of me growing up.

Source: EzineArticles
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