A Special Christmas Gift
Christmas gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Some have ribbons and some have bows. I wrote this story in 2012 about one of the best gifts I ever received. My story appeared in three holiday issues in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. (details are on my web site under Works)
I hope you enjoy this holiday story.
A True Treasure
By Kim Kluxen Meredith
They say that the best gifts come in small packages. I confirmed this adage on Christmas morning 2007 when my daughter Samantha and her husband Craig presented Tom and me with our Christmas presents. For over an hour our family had been leisurely unwrapping our way through the festive mountain of gifts while nibbling on warm gooey cinnamon buns and sipping on coffee in our cozy family room, which was littered with shredded reindeer-decorated paper and mounds of crumpled tissue.
Christmas carols softly played in the background and miniature blinking lights reflected off the crowded colored balls and silver tinsel strands adorning the stiff pine branches of our seven-foot tree. All that remained to unwrap were two small 5×5 identical boxes neatly covered in simple red paper and tied with white bows.
Samantha handed me one box and gave her stepfather the other one. Unlike me, she seemed to see a difference in the two gifts. Facing one another we agreed to open them simultaneously. As we casually peeled away the thin covering, Sam and Craig’s eyes were fixated on us like spotlights on a premier event. Under the paper was a simple white unmarked box. Since Tom was further ahead in the process, I happened to glance over at him and I noticed moisture filling the middle-aged creases around his brown eyes. Shifting my attention back to the square on my lap, I gingerly removed the lid from my box. Within the perimeter of the white mat I observed a glossy black and white blurred image. For a fleeting moment I thought I recognized the outline of a small child but I was afraid to jump to conclusions and I continued to examine the photo.
“Mom, read the title!” Samantha anxiously exclaimed from the couch.
My eyes shifted below the picture and I focused on the bold black lettering which read “Grandma and Me.” Tom had already read the message “Grandpa and Me” which explained his tears of joy. My heart pounded with excitement and suddenly I could not contain my flow of random questions as I squealed with delight.
“When did you find out?”
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
“When are you due?”
“Do you have morning sickness?”
Sam and Craig together laughed and explained that in early November they confirmed that they were expecting their first child. Since they wanted to make sure that they got safely past the first few weeks, they decided to make a Christmas announcement.
My son Rick was in on the secret too. The extremely close sibling bond between brother and sister has never allowed for secrets. In fact, I later learned that he was the one who helped cover for her he night before during our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. Rick
exchanged his sister’s glass of white wine during the cocktail hour for ginger ale and secretly dumped out her goblet of red wine before dinner and poured in red sparkling grape juice from a hidden bottle that was purchased in anticipation of our traditional family toast. When we were all busy preparing the meal, he took over the task of cutting up the pungent cheese as Samantha secretly slipped away to ward off a wave of nausea. I had been oblivious to all of these surreptitious activities, as I was just happy to have everyone home for Christmas and I was busy while making final preparations.
That afternoon I hung our matching ultrasounds next to each other in a special place on the third floor, and in the weeks to come I would often slip away and stand in front of them to make sure that my memory of that Christmas morning was not just a dream.
Seven months later, on July 21,2008 or family gathered at the hospital to welcome into the world Max David LaBarbera. When I saw my first grandchild my heart pounded with the same excitement that I felt on that Christmas morning. As I held him in my arms I was mesmerized by his angelic face and his bright blue eyes, which looked up at me as we silently introduced ourselves. A shock of thick dark hair covered his pink scalp and I couldn’t help but marvel at the miracle of his birth. While admiring my grandson, I felt the presence of Samantha’s father David, in the room and I knew that he was celebrating with us from Heaven while on earth his grandson was proudly given his name in his memory.
Christmas has always been a special and exciting time for me. As a little girl I often awoke in the early dawn and tiptoed downstairs before my three sisters were awake to sneak a peek at Santa’s magical handiwork. The delicious smell of warm baked cookies, the pine scent from our freshly cut Scotch pine and the aroma of smoldering wood in the stone fireplace all permanently reside in my memory as reminders of the season. Numerous gifts have been wrapped and unwrapped over the years, but the true treasures have always been the recollections and mental snapshot of our shared family traditions over the years.
Christmas 2007 will forever be special for me. That year the joyous season of giving welcomed me into my next stage of life and reminded me of the miracle of the circle of life. The little red frame heralding the beginning of a new life will probably be my most precious Christmas gift ever. That gift of life will provide me with bountiful memories as Max David grows and matures and he will bring me perpetual joy and happiness as a new grandmother.
May you have special gifts waiting for you under your tree and fond memories for years to come.