Every year in December A Drift of Quills takes a look at giving—what it means to us, the amazing ways we’ve been touched, or some wonderful gift ideas for your favorite readers. Tradition is a sweet, inspiring thing, and we’re sticking with it! This time around we’ve got real Christmas stories about getting, and stories about giving. Sometimes it’s hard to decide which is best!
It was 1999, and my father was dying. The cancer was fairly aggressive. Shocking, when he’d been so healthy all his life. He’d left the family years before to follow a drummer only he heard. We didn’t see much of him, but still—it was Dad. Time was short. So was money…
Our family got by on an artist’s salary and we had what we needed, but not much more. A warm house, food in the cupboards, clothes on our backs. These things were great blessings to us and to our four healthy, rambunctious children.
After his diagnosis, my brother surprised everyone. He swept in, packed Dad up, and drove him home to take care of him for the rest of his life. All the way across the country. He didn’t ask for help. He never complained.
Another blessing. I don’t know if he realizes what an impression he made. What a gift he gave.
It was a time of reflection, sorrow, frustration… I wanted to see him one last time. My in-laws made it possible. Their early Christmas gift to us was plane tickets to fly out and join the family at my brother’s house for Thanksgiving. One other sister was able to make the trip, and it was a wonderful gift—a time to reconnect and a time to say goodbye. A time to hear stories and tell them. A time to draw close, to love and to be loved. What could be more precious than that?
“It came without ribbons, it came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
—The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss
Another of our favorite real Christmas stories came a couple of years before that when we had the great delight of surprising our oldest daughter. She was twelve years old at the time (I think?). The Christmas he turned twelve her brother had received a stereo of his very own for Christmas. Ye Olde Boome Boxe Style. Thankyoudiscountstores. My hubby and I decided we’d do the same for her. She’d been an especially good girl all year, and she really, really wanted one of her own. Hubby hid the Great Surprise in the trunk of the car. However…
It wasn’t covered, and when he took our daughter and her friend shopping for gifts, they inevitably spied it. Thinking quickly, Hubby said “It’s for Mom. Don’t tell her!”
The girls were thrilled to be in on the secret. Wrapped and set under the tree a few days early, it had my name on the tag. Our darling daughter announced that she knew what was in the box. I tried all kinds of wild guesses except the truth. Gleeful, she refused to give in to temptation or bribery. She would not tell me what was in that box! (But she was sure I’d love it!) It was at once hilarious and endearing.
We switched the tag on Christmas Eve after all the little darlings were fast asleep. Muahahaha.
On Christmas morning, Hubby donned his Santa had and passed out the gifts as usual. When he got to The Big Surprise, he announced that it had our daughter’s name on it.
“What? No! That’s for Mom!” I’ve seldom seen such an endearing expression of surprise and disbelief.
“Nope. See? Your name.”
Sure enough, plain as day, there was her name on the tag. Shaking, crying, laughing, she tore the paper off. “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe it! Thank you! Thank you!” And that sweet, happy face was another of The Best Gifts Ever.
More Real Christmas Stories…!
Author of The Unseen Chronicles
When I think about giving, and gifts, a story from when I was close to nine or ten comes to mind.
My younger brother and I were given a few dollars by our folks and encouraged to find something for each other for Christmas. Being a kid, I did some quick math, figured I could snatch a passable something and still have monies left over…
Author of the Oathtaker Series
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What are *your* favorite real Christmas stories? We’d love to read about your most precious gift-giving or gift-receiving memories!