It's my birthday today. I was a sort of holiday gift to my Mom, I guess. She never really put it that way. But she did work hard to make sure my birthday was disambiguated from Christmas, only a week later. Decades later, my family knows to wrap my birthday present in birthday present paper, not Christmas wrapping. It's not a big deal, I know, and yet, it is.
My sister-in-law has a knack for finding things for me that I always love. Small things--a pair of unique earrings, a lovely jewelry bag, small tokens of the love we share for each other. She's an amazing woman, full of enthusiasm and laughter, and I consider her finding my little brother and marrying him one of the best gifts I ever got.
The first Christmas after my mother died was rough--at least I think it was. I can't really remember anything from that time. But in later years, whenever the three of us kids could work out our schedules to be with Dad and each other at Christmas--that was all the gift I ever wanted. Laughing late into the night with my brothers and their wives, and much later on, their children. To know that I love and am loved. The gifts are stand-ins, tokens, symbols, not the thing itself. Objective correlatives, as my learned MFA instructors taught me to say.
We're going light on presents this year, because we bought a house and well, the insurance and the property tax and whatnot take a little getting used to. Next year we'll budget and spend it all, no doubt. But this year it's the gifts we already have that really count. Like a safe home, a good job, and a love stronger than the stiff-necked pride that both my husband and I occasionally suffer from.
This year, I have the best holiday gift ever. The wisdom to look around and see how crazy lucky I am. Much love and many thanks to everyone. Please have a safe and warm holiday break!