Heidi Thurston: Remembering Christmas past

  • Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2013 12:01 a.m.

With just a short time left before Christmas, I have all of my shopping done, and that’s late for me.

Usually I am finished before Thanksgiving and can step back and enjoy all festivities without thinking about what to get for family and friends.


But finding just the right gift is not that easy any more; between the many choices and the prices, some serious thinking must take place.

As I sat watching our tree the other night, looking at the wrapped gifts beneath it, I recalled my Christmas the year before we left Pennsylvania and headed for North Carolina.

That year had also caused headaches trying to find that special gift for each of our three children.

One son was serving in the Coast Guard and when asked what he wanted Santa to bring him, he wrote back and said’ ”most anything to wear will be all right…as long as it is not blue, not baggy, not military looking, but especially - not blue.”

Can’t say that I blamed him, but there went my plans for a pair of blue slacks with a complimenting pale blue shirt and navy colored tie. I did, however, find the same gifts in pleasant camel colors.

Our other son was in college and informed us he would gladly accept anything as long as it was not dressy and again my plan went out the window.

I had considered a shirt for him too; matching his eyes — I still remembered they were an attractive grey, although due to his latest hairstyle, I had not actually seen his eyes for months.

Our daughter told me no uncertain terms that, “I am a teenager now, so toys are out this year.”

When the boys were little, getting gifts had been so easy. The oldest liked anything as long as it was big and made noise. The youngest was happy with whatever he received just so it could be taken apart and/or could be played.

From the moment he could talk, he wanted a guitar. “What do you want for Christmas, birthday, graduation ….?” The answer was always the same — “a guitar.”

He never said much when he received clothes. Since I always bought the boys clothes alike, he resigned himself early on to the fact that whatever he received, he would wear twice.

And as long as there was a guitar under the tree, he gladly settled for the prospect of wearing his own first and later his brother’s hand-me-downs.

For several years, leading up to the last one in Pennsylvania, Christmas had been relatively quiet with our sons and their younger sister now into gifts that smelled and felt good.

Somewhere a cassette player or records (remember those?) might sneak in, but when looking over the gifts and recalling when the soft presents were considered less exciting, I wished — just for a moment — they all were ages when a large truck; a beginner’s guitar, and a doll that could say “mama,” were the highlight of Christmas morning.

So as I sat there the other evening and recalled that December years ago, I decided that a musical instrument, a doll, and a large truck somehow looks a lot more like Christmas than shirts, ties, and slacks (not blue) no matter the cost. In the end, of course, it doesn’t really matter what is under the tree, as long as we are all together, Christmas will be great …even without a truck, a doll, and a guitar.

Heidi Thurston lives in Kannapolis.

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