Give the gift of love this holiday

Joan Clayton

 
The gift of love is available to all of us and there is no finer gift.
For many years the approaching holiday seasons for me turned into “‘tis the season to be stressful.” Cleaning, baking and shopping brought exhaustion, and by the time Christmas Eve rolled around, I had lost the real meaning of this joyful event.
In addition to my immediate family, my extended family came to our house on Christmas. One by one, I have lost a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle and my parents. The brevity of time brought the realization of the more important things in life, especially at family celebrations. It’s about making memories with loved ones.
We have lived in the same house for 40 years. Every tree, every rock has a story. Sometimes I sit in the swing and hear basketballs bouncing from little boys now gone. I hear skateboards rolling and see Little League uniforms pitching baseballs. I see white paint on the brick wall where little boys had a paint fight and a paddling.
Our house is not large, but when it’s homecoming time, love makes it a mansion.
The loving memories of three little boys who grew up still linger. The height marks of growing boys are still visible on the dining room wall.
Grandchildren whose little footsteps once echoed down our hall now sweep me up in big strong arms that hold me tight. It’s a gift I cherish all year long.
It’s a blessing to have all our sons and their families home. Other times we gratefully share with in-laws, but I remember one particular Christmas with great emotion.
We did not exchange gifts. Instead, we put each person’s name in a basket. One by one we drew a name, even the children and grandchildren. Going around the circle, we told the person whose name we had drawn how thankful we were for the special qualities we saw and appreciated in him or her. What a joyous time that was — we affirmed our love for one another. An abundance of tears, laughter and hugs filled our hearts with humble gratitude.
The greatest joy for Emmitt and me came later. “It’s our turn,” our sons told us.
They began to relive “love” memories, expressing their thoughts and feelings in ways that stirred our hearts.
Lane said, “Dad, do you know what it’s like to be the principal’s kid at high school and have all the kids love my dad? I’d feel so proud. Mom, remember the night we had a pillow fight and you found a note pinned to your pillow at midnight — ‘Mom, you are the best Mommy because you pillow fight with me. Will you marry me when I grow up?’”
Lance said, “Remember all the rock hunting trips you took us on, all the basketball games far and near you went to? Did I ever tell you how much those times meant to me?”
Mark said, “I love you more than you’ll ever know.”
Emmitt said to me, “Next to Jesus, you are the best and most special gift I could ever have.”
What a night to remember.
The time to love is all too short at best and Christmas is all about the gift of love.
It’s about the birth of a savior who came to earth to bring the greatest gift ever known to mankind.
Give the gift of love this Christmas. It is something money cannot buy!

 Portales resident Joan Clayton is a retired teacher and published author. Her e-mail address is:
joan@yucca.net