The best Christmas present ever

Published 12:08 pm Thursday, December 24, 2009

We were on our way to Birmingham last weekend for a large family gathering when the announcer on the radio began to talk about his “most memorable Christmas present.”

The announcer talked about getting a bicycle when he was a young boy and described how exciting that was. It was a good story, but Greg and I both said while we had many great holidays, there wasn’t one single Christmas present that stood out among the others.

“There was that Christmas when I was a teenager that I unwrapped everything, wore my new clothes to school and then wrapped them back up and put them under the tree, but I don’t think that counts,” I said.

Still, the idea brought about a conversation on presents, particularly those we did receive as children. For me, one memory stood out.

When I was young, my dad’s parents lived in a small apartment in north Birmingham. My grandfather was a retired coal miner and my grandmother raised five childrenand they, at least it seemed to me at the time, were about 100 years old. That’s actually not correct, of course, they were only in their 60s, but I was a young child, and it seemed that way to me.

My dad’s side of the family got together each Christmas eve to exchange gifts. We drew names, so you knew you were assured at least one present to open. My grandparents also bought each of the grandchildren—and there were a bunch of us—a small book filled with candy. As a young child, I remember opening this book and thinking it was the greatest thing ever. An entire book of candy? For me? I didn’t have to share? Surely, this was the definition of Christmas joy.

It’s strange that amidst all the Christmas presents and productions my parents provided us with through the years that the one thing that sticks out the most is a small book of Lifesavers, but it’s true.

Of course, it wasn’t actually the candy itself that left me with the memories, rather the times I spent with my cousins and family.

Neither of my dad’s parents are with us any longer, but they left some great memories behind. And, when I’m helping Santa shop for Sutton this year, I will make sure to pick up a dollar book of candy and tell her the story of her great-grandparents. Maybe it will become a great memory for her, too.

Merry Christmas.