The Very Best Gifts

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Very Best Gifts

My mother was never crazy about a Barbie doll as a role model for little girls and she must have wielded an impressive amount of influence with Santa Claus because he never brought me one. Well actually, he finally did, but only after I had begun to see her as a bit suspect myself and the movie version of Camelot had caused me to transfer my affections to Vanessa Redgrave instead. (Queen Guinevere and her snowy castles beat Barbie and her Malibu Dream House, hands down.)
It’s funny to think about now, but as children we spent an inordinate amount of time mulling over what “we would get” for Christmas. It was taken really seriously. We’d lie in bed and visualize ourselves scooting along the neighbourhood streets atop a shiny red bicycle - I wanted a basket on mine, for books of course. We’d whisper to one another in school about the special locket we’d asked for, or the new Beatle record, or, hard to imagine now, that perfect pair of black patent boots.

These days the gifts I long for are the ones that don’t necessarily come gaily wrapped. They don’t seem to fit under the tree, and are never featured in the glossy pages of the best catalogs. But make no mistake - if you manage to give or receive one of these gifts, they will continue to fascinate and charm till the end of days.
They do not wear out, they cannot break.
True, they may gently fade with the passing of the decades, but their once rich colours only take on a sweeter hue, a softer shade, as morning mist only enhances the beauty of the summer garden.
The gifts I most long for are memories, and they are freely given to all who keep their hearts alert for wonder, their eyes awake to joy.
They return whenever bidden, brilliant as the day I first received them - to comfort me when I’m sad, to make me laugh, or to spirit me away from boredom.
They take my hand in the middle of the night and lead me off into dreams.
They possess the power to drop me onto a ice green glacier in Alaska, or on a rolling ferry to the Isle of Skye.
They allow me feel an icy wind bite my face as I drive a dog sled of yapping huskies through the snow at the top of the world.
They send a salty breeze blowing past me as I sit with my eyes closed by a wild crashing sea.
I know I am a wealthy woman, for I have so many of them.
Far, far more than I deserve.
But I am so grateful for every single one.

Whilst I know, and he does not, that I have some delightful surprises wrapped up and waiting under the tree for The Songwriter on Christmas morning, I also know full well that none can match the gift he received this past week. Right before lunch, he ventured down the drive to the mailbox. I sat with Edward at the kitchen table, waiting to read all the sweet holiday cards that fill our box each December day. I love the mail at Christmas. I waited. And waited. Finally, I heard the front door open slowly and he walked in wearing an awestruck expression that had nothing to do with anything he could possibly have found in the mailbox. “I just saw a flock of cranes fly over”, he said. “It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before in my life. There must have been a thousand of them, and they were huge! All making the strangest sound. I wanted to run and get you, but I couldn’t seem to move. It was just amazing”.
So amazing a sight, in fact, it was actually written about in the newspaper the next day. Over fifteen hundred Sandhill Cranes, each as tall as an adult, were spotted flying over the city on their way to the Okefenokee Swamp where they spend the winter months. Calls had come in from all over town, but only a few souls were fortunate enough to witness the incredible sight.
I was thrilled that The Songwriter had been one of the lucky, for I knew this memory would stay with him forever.
It was a gift from on high. The very best kind.

Sweet memories.
These are the gifts that I wish for my readers in this Christmas season.
And make no mistake... they are out there for all!

Sandhill Crane