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Christmas Gifts Gone Awry. This graphic is based on Ellen Clapsaddle postcard art from the early 1900's.
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Written by Shelia Race for Family Christmas OnlineTM

Christmas Gifts Gone Awry

Time, experience, and perspective have mellowed my view of the perfect Christmas and the perfect Christmas gift. And my family is grateful. The perfect Christmas I once tried to create caused us all no end of stress. Oddly, the gifts that have most enriched our lives have been the imperfect gifts. Embracing those gifts has given us our best memories and often the most joy.

Paul and I gave up trying to find the perfect gift for each other long ago. Our best hope is finding a recently released DVD or CD that the other wants. If one of us mentions that desire, however, the surprise is lost.

One Christmas I was thrilled to find a previously viewed copy of Master and Commander. I purchased it and told our middle daughter "Guess what I bought Dad? And he won’t expect it!"

A few days later, she was riding with him in the car. "Guess what I got Mom?" he asked. "Master and Commander! She’ll be so surprised!"

Our daughter was torn. Both of us were so pleased with our "surprises." So she said nothing.

On Christmas morning our daughter handed both packages to us at the same time. We opened them and burst out laughing, while she exclaimed, "I didn’t know what to do! You were both so happy!"

I love that movie!" exclaimed our eldest daughter. "Did anyone get it for me?"

We passed her the previously viewed copy and everyone was happy. And the best part was how many times we’ve retold the story. In our family, a good story is the best gift of all!

Our last Christmas with Paul’s mom was a bittersweet one. She had been badly injured in a fall and had been sent home from the hospital much too soon. Our college junior went to Michigan to stay with her until everyone else was finished with classes and the rest of the family could travel North.

Before our trip to Michigan, I sent Paul to our local butcher shop to buy ground ham for our favorite Christmas dinner of ham loaf.

I’m sure I said three pounds, but he heard ten pounds and came back with enough ground ham to feed an army. I was unhappy with the added expense, then realized the wisdom of the mistake.

I made a loaf in a disposable pan to take to Paul’s family. They could easily put it into the oven for a nice, low-maintenance Christmas dinner.

I made a second loaf for us and my sister’s family who were coming on Christmas Day.

And the rest? My nephew had often told my sister "All I want for Christmas is a pan of Aunt Shelia’s ham loaf. One to eat all by myself."

After the gifts were opened on Christmas Day I said "What!?!?! Do I hear sleigh bells?"

My nephew received a small card. "On the back porch is what you’ve always wanted. You’ve been a very good boy this year." It was signed "Santa".

His favorite Christmas gift came from a Christmas gift gone awry. And another memory was made.

So as we seek to find the right gift for those we love, let’s embrace the imperfect gift. The unexpected gift. There we’ll make the best memories and find the Christmas laughter we seek. Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree in all its glory.

Remembering during those times that there was only one Perfect Gift. And that the Christmas gifts we give in love are only a symbol of the Gift our Heavenly Father gave because He so loved us.

God grant you and your loved ones grace and a spirit of generosity and service this Christmas season.

Shelia Race, Family Christmas OnlineTM

If you have any corrections, comments, or additions you would like to make about this article or anything on our web site, please contact us and we will be very glad to hear from you. God bless - Paul and Shelia

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