There are only twenty-four shopping days left until Christmas and I’ve barely started. I have a list of people I need to buy for, but not a list of what I’m buying. The hardest person to find something special for is Lauren. Hardest, because she can’t tell me what she would like, drop hints about that special something, or leave sale catalogs lying around open to one particular page with a red circle around a great pair of boots or new winter coat. Yet she should be the easiest, because she doesn’t really care what I get her. She feels no need to acquire “things”. She wants comfortable clothes, her favorite music, and somewhere to go. Nonetheless, I still want to find that extraordinary something that lets her know how special she is to us. I go through this every year, racking my brain for ideas, running from store to store, pouring over the mail-order catalogs to find the perfect present. Over the years nothing I’ve ever bought for Lauren stands out as making a big splash with her. When she was very young I could find some colorful or noisy toy that would make an impression on her for awhile, but as she got older my options dwindled.
Maybe my approach to this is all wrong. If you ask the average person what they remember or love the most about Christmas, I bet very few will say the gifts. I bet their favorite things will revolve around family, friends, and traditions, maybe the lights and music, maybe the warmth the holidays bring to this chilly time of year. Perhaps I need to concentrate on surrounding Lauren with the joys and delights of this special time. I need to stop searching for an unknown and focus on the wonders of this season. I need to make sure that her playlist includes O Holy Night and the Chipmunks singing “Christmas, Christmas time is near...” (No, I’m not including those dogs barking Jingle Bells.) I need to find some holiday concert or better yet children’s chorus to take her to hear. I need to make sure she has a red sweater and something sparkly to pin in her dark curls on Christmas Day. And, I need to tell her the Christmas story and what we are really celebrating. Instead of giving her a package decorated with a pretty bow, what I need to do is make sure that she feels the love and joy we too often miss as we rush around doing what we think is important instead of what really is.
So, this year I think Lauren will have her own little Christmas tree aglow with lights in her room. It won’t have gifts beneath its limbs but will be skirted by an embroidered cloth with crocheted edging made by her great-grandmother. I will find the Christmas sheet music buried in the piano bench and dust off the keys of my long idle piano. I always seem to be too busy to play for her. And, instead of wasting hours and hours shopping for that elusive perfect present, I’ll curl up on the couch with her and watch Miracle on 34th Street or maybe check out Whoville and the Grinch. And, instead of worrying about how little time is left to shop for that special something, I’ll try to show Lauren that at Christmas something special is all around us.