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A gift to remember

December 27, 2023 - 00:00
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Like many of you, I’m well into those years of celebrating Christmas in “parts.” Travel distances, my children with their own households and my older grandchildren now establishing theirs have made it difficult for my immediate family to be together on Christmas Day. I’ve celebrated a lot of Christmases in my lifetime, in whole or in parts, but I can say with certainty that Christmas 2023 is the Clements family equivalent of Ralphie’s Chinese turkey and Aunt Bethany’s gift-wrapped cat!

I’m very methodical in my gift buying and gift wrapping. I have a staging area where I lay out the gift, gift bags, boxes, wrapping paper, scissors, tags, ribbons and bows. This year, Bidenomics took a significant bite out of my Christmas budget and that filtered down to making-do with the items on hand. Having perfected the art of ironing tissue paper, my real challenge was with boxes.

For the last 4-5 years, I’ve bought a majority of my gifts from our Navasota shops and started a tradition of buying an ornament from Wrapped in Grace for my second oldest granddaughter, Georgia, and added my oldest granddaughter, Allison, last year. They’re beautiful ornaments and I selfishly hope my granddaughters will think of me when they put them on their trees 10, 20, 30 years from now.

But back to my creative gift wrapping, I found what appeared to be the perfect box for Allie’s ornament but it turned out to be two bottoms. Undeterred, I wrapped the ornament in green tissue paper, wrestled a bottom into submission and set it aside to be wrapped later. In the interim, I found a pretty box with a glittery top and decided that was the box for Allie — all I had to do was put ribbon and a bow on it. Voila! It was done and under the tree.

After Christmas dinner at my youngest daughter’s home, we gathered to open gifts, starting with Lexi who was the youngest present, and went around the room with me, the “matriarch,” opening last. All went well until we got to Allie. Removing the ribbon and bow, she commented about the pretty box, opened the lid, and with a pregnant pause said, “There’s nothing in it.”

I sat there in disbelief as she held the box upside down. No green tissue paper. No ornament. Everyone laughed hysterically. Allie made some poor, pitiful me jokes. My gentleman friend and my future grandson-inlaw Jack went to town with Aunt Bethany jokes, aka Christmas Vacation. (Jack does a marvelous impression of her, by the way). Since we were only halfway through opening the gifts, every gift from me after that was suspect. When Georgia opened her ornament, Allie wanted to know if that was what hers looked like. The jokes just kept coming. From his perch of objectivity, my gentleman friend was able to observe everyone’s reactions which he considered absolutely priceless. Even Allie said she wished her reaction had been recorded. It WAS funny but highly disconcerting to someone my age.

I was in a stunned stupor the rest of the afternoon. All the way home, my mind couldn’t fathom what in the heck happened to Allie’s ornament! Going to my gift wrap closet that night, I found the original makeshift box. It nearly took a crowbar to pry the two bottoms apart but inside in green tissue paper was my Allie’s ornament! Thanks to the miracle of texting, I took a picture of it and sent it to everyone to let them know I hadn’t completely lost my mind yet!

I thank God for the blessing of His son and my family. I thank God that they, my gentleman friend and my new son-in-law and future grandson-in-law all have a sense of humor tinged with love. Though unplanned, I think I’ve secured my place in their hearts and minds in more ways than one this Christmas season. God bless us, everyone!

The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Connie Clements. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner. Clements is a freelance reporter for the Navasota Examiner and an award-winning columnist.