Why is it we can be so “slow of learning” when it comes to the important things in life? Why do we have to lose that which is most important to us before we take stock of all that we possess?
As Christmas is upon us I am drawn into that childlike state that I shall never forget.
Whether a child believes in Santa Claus or not is irrelevant but what will always hold true is the child’s ability to believe in fantasy, to just know that Christmas will bring that certain joy that we never outgrow.
When I was a child we only received one gift and were not allowed to believe in Santa Claus but I still believed anyway. Being the imp that I was and still am I would quietly place a brown paper bag on our front porch because I knew that Santa dared not step inside.
And sleep wouldn’t come!
Of course the brown grocery bag went unnoticed but I still believed anyway.
We don’t outgrow the child within nor should we. I think dreaming is what keeps us forever young whether most of our wishes come true or not.
At this stage, this age that I am, I could care less about gifts. Well that is mostly true because the little girl inside still just knows that a special gift will come from out of the blue.
But the one gift that brings me the most joy is reaching within and drawing from whatever gifts are buried there, I work on those gifts to will my dreams into reality.
Not knowing many of my living relatives I was so blest to have the old family trunk along with a host of family pictures. And since 1978, when I began searching for family, I have not only found more lost relatives than anyone I know, I have heard stories that warm my heart all year.
My second cousin, Mildred Pettis Leighton, couldn’t afford to buy gifts for her family in her later years so she turned to writing and penned some sweet stories about her childhood out in Woods County, Oklahoma, where she recalled my poor little mother who was left orphaned at the age of two when my grandmother, Myrtle Maples-Morris, died at the age of twenty-five, from typhoid fever.
After my grandmother died, my mother stayed at Mildred’s house one Christmas, and Mildred said that my mother was better than any doll at Christmas.
I think Mildred left a legacy in the handwritten stories she gave to her family at Christmas time. I was blest to have received two sets of those stories while doing my family tree tracing.
We all have our way of celebrating the holidays. I don’t feel that I have celebrated Thanksgiving or Christmas unless I’ve written some stories and baked some homemade yeast rolls.
Roll making is something I’ve done for a long time and I think I get more out of that ritual than the receiver does even though I won a blue ribbon on my rolls one time, in a baking contest!
Our lives are filled with tradition, with ritual, just like Robert Fulghum emphasized in his book titled From Beginning To End The Rituals Of Our Lives.
So gift giving and receiving is all a part of the tradition that help to give us a time line as we recall how far we’ve come and how much further we may go.
It’s more than giving or receiving but in a spirit of love that should last all year.
Sarah Hudson Pierce is an columnist and president of Ritz Publications in Shreveport