Story by Susan Spence
As I contemplate the arrival of the holidays, I think about all the warm and wonderful Christmas’s as a child and I feel a smile cross my face. They were truly a time to remember. As I grew older, the Christmas memories become less vivid and more of a sad and depressing time for me…until last year. It was then that I believe I learned how to re-capture that childhood wonder and joy I felt as a child.
Every year I flounder never knowing what to buy my mother for Christmas. Another robe and slippers, perfume, sweaters? All nice gifts, but they just don’t say I love you like they should. I wanted something different, something she would love for the rest of her life. Something that would put that beautiful smile back on her face and the quickness in her step. She lives alone and much as I may want to spend time with her, I can only manage an occasional visit with the schedule I keep. So I made the decision to become her Secret Santa. Little did I know that this would be just what the doctor ordered.
I went out and bought all sorts of small gifts and then headed to the more expensive areas of the mall. I picked up little nothings, things that I knew only my mother would love. I took them home and wrapped each one differently. Then I went to my computer and made a card for each one. It went according to the song The Twelve Days of Christmas. Then I began my adventure. The first day was so exciting, I dropped it off and put it in the screen door. Then I hurried home and called her, pretending to inquire about her health. She was bubbling over. Someone had left a gift for her and signed it “Secret Santa”.
The next day, the same scenario played out. After four or five days, I went to her house and my heart just broke. She had laid out all the gifts on her kitchen table and was showing them to everyone at the apartment complex. Wrappings and all were spread out and each one had the note attached. She never stopped talking about this secret admirer the entire duration of my visit. Her eyes sparkled and her voice was lilting. She was in seventh heaven. Every day, she would call me with news of the new gift she found when she woke up. Then she decided to try to catch the person responsible and slept on the couch with the door cracked open. So I left it later that day and she worried that the gifts weren’t coming any more. She had me just as excited as she was. On the last day, the note told her to be dressed on that Saturday and she was to go to Applebee’s for dinner and it was there she would meet her Secret Santa. She went wild. The note also told her to ask her daughter Susan to bring her (that’s me). It said she would know her Secret Santa by the red ribbon she would be wearing. So I picked her up and off we went.
When we arrived the hostess seated us at a table and my Mom looked around. She lost the smile and asked when was she going to meet her Secret Santa. I slowly took off my coat and there was the red ribbon. She began to cry and fuss over how much I spent and how did I do this. She was happier than I have ever seen her.
When it was all said and done, I thought about how good I felt and just as quickly, I remembered something very important. When I was a child, it was my mother who taught me that it is better to give than to receive. Reality slapped me hard. All these years I had been sad during the holidays was most likely because I was looking at the ‘getting’ instead of the ‘giving’. I was humbled by this realization and now I am certain, Mom does know best…