I admit it. I had shopped and wrapped, organized and shopped again, written articles, mailed Christmas cards, corralled and coerced relatives and friends into celebrating the holidays until I wasn't much in the mood to celebrate them myself. By the time Christmas Eve arrived and the family started to gather, I was hoping that Santa might stop by with a fresh dose of Christmas spirit for me. And, he did. He came in the form of two family members -- my brother John and his son Avery.
My brother John wore Christmas on his sleeve, well, his neck actually, when he arrived wearing the very ugly Christmas tie I had given him on his birthday (Dec. 12). First thing you have to know, I intended it as a joke. Not for a minute did I consider it a beautiful tie and second, my brother John is the type of guy who dresses up every holiday. On Halloween, the year after Bush ran against Al Gore, he dressed as a Hanging Chad. So the guy is unique and has a sense of humor. Thus, I couldn't quite understand why he seemed to declare my birthday gift pathetically ugly and not suitable to wear to work. Once again I professed it wasn't meant to be taken seriously. BTW, I also gave my brother an itunes gift card and some other gifts so the ugly tie was not the only birthday present he unwrapped from me. I was kind of sad that we didn't share the joke, so when he appeared at my door on Christmas Eve wearing the red sequined accessory with white wooly tip, I took it for what it was a grand overture, a homage on my behalf. It made me smile and the Christmas spirit began to slowly find it's way back.
I felt it in full force a few minutes later when my 8 year-old nephew Avery arrived with a pile of gifts. Gifts he had picked out, purchased, and wrapped himself, all with his own money. When my one niece opened hers he proclaimed "That cost $10." He gave his cousin, my nephew Christian a bag of Krullers and me, a roll of lifesavers wrapped and addressed to "Anty Bee." And, he had purchased local -- the gas station and downtown store!
I had friends who complained this holiday that the focus is too much on gifts not enough on the true meaning of Christmas. I think both my brother and my nephew gave gifts that exemplified exactly what Christmas is about -- and I don't mean ugly ties and cheap food -- they gave of themselves, they thought of others, they brought a smile to the faces of those around them, chiefly my own. They acted in the spirit of Christ and the spirit of Santa -- they showed love.