The last Christmas gift I bought was in 2004. It was a really ugly, expensive toy for my grandson. On that Boxing Day, I sat down and wrote a little essay for my personal family collection of stories: Anne’s Frank Diary!
Here goes: My fair, beautiful grandson ran ran into my lounge, bursting with excitement and yes, I could swear, an air of determination. He pushed a glossy, comprehensive toys brochure into my hands, the kind they place in magazines about a month before Christmas. By now it was dog-eared and obviously well-traveled between school and bed. “Ouma,” he said firmly, “here are the toys that I like. Remember? It’s Christmas soon….”
He settled onto my lap, and together we paged through the brochure, him happily discussing each toy with a view to Christmas, bright eyes glancing at me every so often to check my reaction. He gave me a full description of each toy he liked, its function and method of operation – batteries or manual. He liked the ones with batteries. They could sing and dance and move and talk and shoot and spin. He also liked the BigBoy and Playstation options very much, but finally settled on a Robo-Sapien: ‘yes’ and ‘please?’, he added. He then closed the brochure, sighing with a satisfied smile. Mission accomplished, spelled his body language.
I hugged him and asked him if he knew why we celebrate Christmas. He laughed and said it’s the birth of Baby Jesus, silly Ouma! I said yes and could he explain why he, Geoffrey should get such a big, expensive gift if we are actually celebrating Jesus’s birthday? He thought a while and his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree and he said of course, Jesus should actually be getting the gift but now Jesus is in Heaven and so, he, Geoffrey and all the other kids in the world should get His gifts instead. Yes, I said, we surely acknowledge Jesus through our children on that day but we should actually do it with tokens – otherwise known as symbols – to show our gratitude and faith and to bring home the Jesus message of peace and love and tolerance and faith and families and joy. Those are the most important things in the world and our gifts to each other should be a symbol of what is important to us.
His eyes became soft and tender; he was deep in thought. Eventually he said the most important thing in the world is his family, so could I please give him a photo of his family for Christmas? I hugged him again and said of course I will. He touched my face and said, then, can he then have the Robo-Sapien afterwards, the twinkle in his eye brighter than the heavenly guiding lights. I calculated my bank balance mentally, and promised him yes, I will.
The decision weighed heavily on me, and when I saw the toy I was certain I had committed a sin: it was so loud, so ugly, so…so not us, our family. But I bought it nonetheless and when I saw him playing with it and the toy sounding and behaving like a vacuum cleaner on HRT, I told the family that for me, the last of a commercial Christmas has been seen. In future, I said, I will celebrate the birth of Christ and acknowledge the event and our faith by creating hand-crafted tokens of appreciation for those I love. Needless to say, they all bought into the concept.
Several months later, my daughter told me she advertised the Robo-Sapien in the local newspaper. Geoffrey does not play with it, she added. A week went by before she mentioned that there were no takers for the toy. I smiled secretly, knowing it had cost me dearly, that toy, but since it brought home to Geoffrey the value of Christmas in relation to family, love and faith, it was a worthwhile investment!
So dears, since that day my family and I celebrate a Christmas that is not about us and the gifts are small, tasteful and self-made. However, food plays a great part in the celebrations and the entire festive season. Best of all (for me), our Christmas lunch this year will be hosted by my daughter Michele, Geoffrey’s mom a their lovely home. Geoffrey is now fourteen years old and to this day, the framed photo of him with his family is next to his bed. Nobody can tell for sure what happened to that ugly toy.
Since writing this post, I have found a picture taken around that time and here it is: at the back Kevin (son in law) and my daughter Michele, and in front me with my son Brett plus little Anna and Geoffrey on my lap. They are Michele’s eldest. We since gained a little sweetheart Caitlin and a daughter in law, llse. My word, how young, and pretty and slim we were …!
To all my new friends in this food blog world of ours: thank you for often making my day and for bringing joy and humour and great recipes to my life iin 2011, my first year with you. We share a lot and it’s a good place to be. Here’s wishing you and yours a beautiful, spiritually-inspiring Christmas and festive holiday. See you in 2012 when we wil be producing a television show about YOU and featuring YOU in your own episode and also feature my favourite bloggers on a special ‘Best Bloggers’ showcase on our beauticious website I Love Cooking. We wil contact you directly about it and see if you are interested. Meanwhile, this virtual token of appreciation is for you.
May we all experience in abundance God’s grace and enjoy realness, humbleness, peace, love, tolerance, health and wealth in 2012!