Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Memorable Gifts

For many, this is the season of gifts, both the giving and the receiving.  I was thinking today of the Christmases of my childhood and of the gifts we gave and received back then.  It's interesting to me the things that stayed with me, the things I most remember when I look back at those times.


We used to give my Dad the worst gifts--at least, they seemed pretty awful to me, but they were things he wanted and asked for.  One gift he requested every single Christmas was a can of heavy duty mechanic's hand soap.  I thought the name of it was D&L hand cleaner or hand soap, or something of that nature.  I tried to find a picture of it, but was unsuccessful, so maybe I'm remembering it wrong, or maybe they don't make it anymore.


It came in a round blue and white can with a plastic lid.  The soap in it looked like lard and seemed to be of that same sort of consistency.  My Dad had two antique cars, a 1927 Chevy and a 1931 Chevy that he bought and worked on a little at a time for literally years to restore them to original condition. Because his hands would get very dirty and often greasy from working on his cars, he needed the heavy duty soap in order to get his hands clean again. It seemed like it took him just about a year to use up one of those big cans of soap, and every year he would ask for a new can of it for Christmas.


Another thing I remember buying for him a lot was a can of nuts.  Sometimes we would get him roasted peanuts and sometimes it would be a can of mixed nuts or cashews, but every year a can of nuts seemed to be one of the presents that ended up under the tree for my Dad.  What was funny was that the can of nuts and the can of heavy duty hand cleaner looked very similar once wrapped, except that, I think the hand soap can was bigger around than the nuts.  I'm not sure why, but we thought that was amusing back then, like we thought we could fool him when he went to open them, and he tried to guess what the gift was.  


The third less-than-exciting gift that I can remember us buying every year (or so it seemed) for my Dad was some Old Spice cologne.  You know the one.  It came in a white bottle with a blue ship on it, and the white bottle came in a red box, also with a blue ship on it.  This was long before the days of the "look at me" Old Spice guy of the commercials today.  That smell shall forever make me think of my Dad.  I can't remember him ever wearing any other kind of cologne.


Of course, my Dad received other gifts.  I think he got socks every year and maybe undershirts and boxers underwear too.  He'd receive the occasional sweater or shirt or slippers.  He often asked for certain tools too. Mom would make him write down what he wanted when it came to tools, though, so she'd know what to ask for at the hardware store.  I really can't remember anything much else that came his direction in the way of gifts.  I do remember thinking that I was glad I didn't get the kind of gifts that he got!


Gifts for my Mom were a little better, but not much, at least from the view of my child's eyes.  One of her every-year gifts was a bottle of Rose Milk skin care lotion that came in a pink bottle.


Another was Oil of Olay moisturizing lotion.


She also received lots of night gowns and slippers and warm socks.  All nice gifts if you need them, I suppose, but just not very exciting or memorable.


As for gifts that I received, what is funny is, there are very few that stand out as memorable, although at the time, I can well remember the excitement of waiting for the arrival of Christmas and the wonder of the presents under the tree.  A few of the gifts that I do remember being given as a child are a Mickey Mouse Marionette puppet, an Easy Bake Oven, 




some clamp-on metal roller skates that were worn over top of your regular shoes,




 and a Spirograph art drawing toy.




These were gifts that left an impression on me, that I remembered.


A gift that I requested and received every Christmas was a new diary.  I think from the age of 8, or so, clear up through my college years and beyond even, I received a diary for Christmas every year.  I loved those diaries.  I wrote in them every night before I went to bed.  I wrote about whatever had happened to me that day.  I think I still have them all in a box in the attic somewhere.  They make for pretty dull reading now, but for some reason keeping that daily log of my life was important to me as a kid.  I think it was part of my dream of growing up to be a writer.  There were always things I wanted to say, to get down on paper and save.  


Now, when someone asks me what I want for Christmas, I am generally hard put to come up with an answer. There really is very little that I need or want.  In all honesty, what I would really love is for someone to come and clean out the closets and attics and basement of my house and  take away some of my things rather than give me more!!  I'd love to have those spaces cleaned out and reorganized and made tidy.  That's a gift that is difficult for someone else to give me, though, because no one but me knows which items are of value to me and which items are just there taking up space.  I know that is a gift I will have to give myself if it is ever going to happen.


As you gather with your families this Christmas, whether or not you exchange gifts with one another, I hope that you remember to stop and take time to celebrate the very best gift of the season, the birth of the Christ Child--certainly a memorable gift, don't you think?  


We will be doing that on Christmas Eve here.  My church holds a candlelight service every year on Christmas Eve.  My son will be playing Christmas music on his upright bass with some other youth orchestra members from our church in the prelude to the service.  It is one of my favorite church services to attend because it always seems to be the purest celebration of peace and joy.  The candles make it seem more reverent, the songs seem to be sung with the most enthusiasm, and everyone seems to be wearing a smile.


I'd also like to say to you my readers, thank you for your friendship.  Friends are one of the most wonderful gifts we are given to share our lives here on earth, and I am very grateful for the gift of all my blogging friends.  I consider all of you very memorable gifts.  I wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!