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Deadlines put others first at Christmas

Submitted by on Monday, 6 December 2010 No Comment

We’d bought the Christmas tree just days after Halloween – a two-footer that took some bending to fit in a box that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to ship, but we did it. At the same time, we bought the tiniest strand of lights we could find and a set of dozens of gold ornaments, half to keep and half to ship.

A few weeks after that, we made our first trip to the craft shop to start on projects for other far-flung loved ones. We finished our last gifts yesterday.

Two events, one created by shipping deadlines and the other inspired by poverty-stricken necessity a few years back. Both force the guys to focus on others early in the holiday season, and that’s as it should be.

We’d always planned to send Dad a Christmas tree, except I had no idea how hard that was going to be. I combed the Internet but could find only one company that would ship to Afghanistan. I was ready to go with that, but even at a very early date the vendor couldn’t guarantee delivery before mid-January.

So we hit the PX and created Christmas In A Box. It actually worked out better, because the guys were able to feel and touch part of their father’s holiday. Once we got home, I kept swapping out packing boxes until I found the smallest one that the tree and ornaments would still fit in. I wound up mailing it in an Amazon box – oh, the irony considering that no one on Amazon would ship a tree to an APO address.

That problem solved, we turned to creating presents for the rest of the family. It’s a tradition we started three Christmases ago, when both guys were in day care full-time and the wallop to the wallet was painful. Except for the guys’ presents, every gift we gave that year was homemade. Picture calendars and bath salts. Hot cocoa mix and cookie kits. Fudge and baked goods. We spent hours every weekend creating and wrapping. The guys had a blast.

The guys, especially Big Guy, also have long memories. They now expect to make gifts every year, and I’m more than OK with that. It saves money, and it inspires them to think of others as they create the presents. It also gives them something to do for weeks on end.

We’ve relented a little on the homemade edict – we buy their cousins gift cards – but everyone else gets a hand-crafted gift. This year, most were ceramic or clay.

I thought we might be headed for trouble early on, when Big Guy wanted to know which of the creations was his to keep. When it came time last night to finish packing the boxes to ship, though, his giving spirit had returned.

“I want to send these,” he said, handing me his shiny reindeer ornaments with a dot of a red nose. “They’re the most beautiful ones I made. I want to send them.”

That’s all the Christmas present I need this year.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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