I miss my mother's mother. "Grandmom Cookie" (so named because she always had a cookie jar of goodies for us)* was a barmaid. She was funny and salty and did everything she could to make my father crazy. She had Tuesdays off, and she would come over and take my mother and I out shopping, often buying my sister and I anything we wanted, which drove my father absolutely bonkers. One day, after a particularly generous trip, my father said "Jesus Christ! You'd buy those kids the world, if you could!" The next week my sister and I came home with globes. I never really wondered how I ended up with such a sarcastic sense of humor.
Cookie would come and spend the night on Christmas Eve and my sister and I would open her presents that night and presents from Santa on Christmas morning. One year, after a particularly prosperous season, we opened a few gifts from Cookie, only to find about a hundred more from her the next morning. the entire house was filled with presents. The living room; the hallways; the kitchen and even the bathroom were piled high with toys. I can still see my father, steam practically pouring out of ears, unable to say a word because it was her prerogative to spoil us rotten if she wanted to.
The first Christmas after Grandmom Cookie passed away (just a few moths earlier, in October) was rather sad. Mom, deciding we needed some cheering up, let us open one present on Christmas Eve. The following year, we opened all our presents on Christmas Eve. Neither my sister nor I believed in Santa any more, and it seemed a fitting way to honor Cookie's memory. The tradition has remained and we always open our presents on Christmas Eve, leaving Christmas Day as a day of leisure. We sleep in, I make an awesome brunch and we just relax for the rest of the day.
Of course, Grandmom's generosity has spilled over to me, and I often find myself buying too many gifts for those I love. That doesn't mean that I equate Christmas with tons of gifts or that I'm obsessed with 'things.' But I did learn how to shop for holiday gifts that have meaning to the folks about whom I care. And seeing their faces when they open those gifts gives me more joy than any present I might receive, could.
This year, I tried to restrain myself. A few of my dearest friends decided we should set limits on our spending, and I did my best to abide by their wishes, though went overboard as usual with everyone else. And while the money I spent this year was probably less than lest year, knowing I got gifts that will bring smiles to the faces of those I love is what matters to me.
So, what's the point of this post, you may well ask? I suppose it's only to remind you that giving is the best part of Christmas (whether or not you are a 'believer') and that having people in your life for whom you want to buy gifts is far more important than the gifts you receive from them.
I hope you have as many people you love in your life as I do. I always feel blessed for those in mine. Without them, I'd just be some opinionated jerk with Internet access...
* That is almost the exact cookie jar Grandmom had, BTW