Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Memories

This time of year always makes me stop and reflect on Christmas’s past. I have many cherished memories from childhood and even to adulthood that I treasure.
One of my favorite memories of Christmas was one where my oldest son Tyler, then only eleven, taught me a lesson I have never forgotten.

The year had been one that had led us into some financial difficulty. Without boring you with all the details, it was a pretty lean year for us. Though we had the means to get Tyler Christmas from “Santa” it would be a meager one. Brad and I had decided the only option we had would be to forego getting anything for each other.

I certainly realize Christmas is not about how many gifts you receive, but it was really difficult for me to think of all my husband had done to work so hard to provide for us and come Christmas morning, not a single thing for him would be left for him under the tree. I felt terrible, to say the least. We had done our best to make sure Tyler didn’t know of the financial stress we were under, but we told him not to be too disappointed if he didn’t get everything on his list he had written to Santa that year. That made me feel awful as well, as Tyler didn’t usually ask for much.

About that time I realized that one particular neighbor was asking Tyler to babysit a lot. Tyler was also staying after school quite a bit. I kept catching glimpses of him as he would run in one door, grab a bite to eat and then run out the other door. He had been doing this throughout most of the month of December.

Christmas was only a couple of days away when Tyler came to me and asked if we could do something different with Christmas that year. I asked him what he wanted to do. He said he had changed his mind about what he wanted for Christmas and really didn’t want anything after all. Just some gift from mom and dad would do because that year he was hoping that we would let him play Santa. All we had to do was go to bed on Christmas Eve and promise to let him take care of everything. And of course, NO PEEKING ALLOWED.

I had no idea what he was up to, but I figured that after he did whatever he had planned we could bring out our gifts to him and it would be fun. So, sure, we’d play along.

Come Christmas morning, Brad and I were in for the shock of our lives…

We woke up to two colors of string being strung throughout the entire house. There was a letter from Santa outside our bedroom door telling each of us what colors to follow. The string would lead us to our gifts along the way.

We were each given a Christmas mug. I got a pair of earrings, some lotion, and several books. Brad got a pocketknife, some aftershave lotion, and some rollerblades.

How had my son done this for us? The whole month of December he gave up his recesses and stayed after school to work at “Santa’s Workshop” offered by the sixth graders. He had asked the teachers if he could work there as much as they would let him. With his points he earned from doing so, he bought most of our gifts there. The books and the roller blades came from his babysitting money. Tyler’s reason’s for picking those two gifts for us was because he knew how much I love to read, he thought it would make me happy and take some time for myself, and the rollerblades for Brad was so that father and son could spend more time together. (Tyler was really into rollerblading at the time.)

You should have seen Tyler teaching Brad to rollerblade…another cherished memory.

Christmas morning was wrapped up with Tyler producing homemade menus and making us a Christmas Breakfast. We used our brand new Christmas mugs for hot chocolate. We still have our mugs today.

Tyler is now 23, married, and living in Idaho. The lessons he taught me of truly giving of yourself and making the sacrifice to give from the heart is just and strong and poignant today as it was all those Christmas’s so many years ago. The gifts he gave and the lessons learned are priceless to me. Thank you, son. I love you.

Merry Christmas to everyone!


Stephanie Black said...

Jeri, what an beautiful story! Tyler sounds like an incredible guy.

Jennie said...

Jeri, I enjoyed your story. It sounds like you and Brad raised Tyler to be a thoughtful, caring man.

sunnyannie said...

What a wonderful son you have there. To think of doing all that when he was only 11! My eldest is 13 and I don't think she's ever bought me a present at Christmas. I might have to suggest it to her ...

Cheri J. Crane said...

Wonderful blog, Jeri. An excellent reminder of the magic that can take place during the Christmas season.

Gale Sears said...

What a grand Christmas! One you will treasure forever. Thank you for sharing.

Valerie Holladay said...

Here I am too, a bit late, to say what a fabulous story and a great memory. From what you've told me of Tyler, he sounds like a remarkable and inspired young man. You done good, Mom! I'm going to hang onto this story for a while because it's such a good one (have you given it to Covenant yet? I bet they'd love it)