Monday, December 18, 2006

Who Doesn't Love Christmas Presents!

Who doesn't love Christmas presents?

I know I do.

I love to receive them, but the best part is in giving a present and watching the delight on the face of the recipient, especially if it is the face of a child.

When I was a child, I could hardly wait for Christmas. I used to save my allowance all year so that I could buy Christmas presents for my family. If I didn't have the money to buy presents then I made them.

I can remember one Christmas when I was looking around our house to see if I could find the Christmas presents my Mother had hidden all over the house. In particular, I was looking under the bed in my parents room when my Mother caught me with bedspread in hand. YIKES! Caught red-handed. Well, my Mother decided to teach me a lesson. She opened all the presents and showed me every one of them. She said that my presents would all be wrapped and under the tree on Christmas Day, but the fun would be gone as I would already know what I was getting. That way, she surmised I'd learn my lesson. Well, she was right. I never looked again.

However, my knowing what my presents were that year didn't diminish the enjoyment that I got from the presents that I gave to others.

I still love Christmas and it is still a HUGE holiday in my family. My husband and I spend days wrapping presents. He wraps the presents. I decorate them (for a crafter, so much fun). I'm always trying to come up with new ways to decorate them. Sometimes my recipients don't want to open them. They just look too darn pretty.

In any event, where did the idea of giving Christmas presents come from?

Well, we have to credit St. Nicholas (you remember my previous post, don't you?) for this. St. Nicholas who was a bishop in Turkey heard of a family with three daughters who were unable to wed as they had no dowry. St. Nicholas had come from a wealthy family and had given up all his worldly possessions to become a bishop. He took 3 bags of gold coins and dropped them down the chimney. The coins landed in the girls stockings that had been hung to dry on the fireplace. St. Nicholas was caught in the act by the girls father, but he begged him to keep his secret. Two days later, however the entire village heard of his gift and so the tradition of stockings and St. Nicholas began.

For me, there is no better present then a "hug!" Especially if it comes from one of my grandchildren.

Second to that, however, is a "handmade" present and, believe it or not, the giving of "handmade" gifts has a history to it, too.

This tradition we have to credit to the Victorians, once again, as the making of Christmas presents was seen as a way to enliven the long winter evenings leading up to Christmas. The planning and making of gifts started months in advance. Daughters would help their Mothers with sewing and needlework. Family members spent a lot of time designing personal gifts for each other. Long hours were spent together planning and creating their special gifts.

For the Victorians the notion of a homemade gift was more sentimentally appealing then a gift bought at a store. I, for one, couldn't agree with them more.

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