The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 11, 2012

Remembering Christmas gifts that meant the most

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

— What do you love most about Christmas? Think about it.

Music, lights, more music, wonderful warm-hearted TV shows, Christmas cards from friends that we have not heard from for a year, fudge, making candies, making cookies, the aroma of the kitchen, the tree and all the outside and inside decorations, wrapping presents, finding those presents bought earlier in the year that are hidden away, apple cider, carolers, happy memories and so much more. I love everything about Christmas.

My favorite Christmas as a child was the year I received Margaret, my wonderful doll made from a flour sack with a pretty pink dress and braids (like I had). Mother had lovingly stitched her and embroidered her facial expressions after I went to bed. Margaret still has that pretty face, but her hair has about molted away. I love her just the same. And she still loves me, too.

Jim remembers getting a bicycle when money was scarce, and he really didn’t have his hopes up very much. Was he ever surprised!

Back then, we didn’t expect a lot because we were not tempted at every turn to desire the latest toy or whatever. We wrote a letter to Santa, but it was not just a long wish list. We were satisfied with the things we got, and usually it was something real practical like underwear or a robe or socks.

We hung stockings for Santa to fill, and he did. We received an orange, a huge red apple, some nuts and candy and possibly a small toy. We smelled the orange and apple for a long time before we ate it, just enjoying the aroma.

Somewhere in my “stuff,” I have saved this little clipping about Christmas gifts. The author is unknown, but they knew the real meaning of the season.

Eight Gifts that Don’t Cost a Cent

“The gift of listening — but you must really listen. No interruption, no day-dreaming, no planning your response. Just listening.

“The gift of affection — Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and holding their hand. Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.

“The gift of laughter — Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will say, ‘I love to laugh with you.’

“The gift of a written note — It can be a simple ‘thanks for the help’ note, or a full sonnet. A brief, hand- written note may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a life.

“The gift of a compliment — A simple and sincere ‘you look great in red,’ ‘you did a super job,’ or ‘that was a wonderful meal’ can make someone’s day.

“The gift of a favor — Every day, go out of your way to do something kind. (It doesn’t count if you tell somebody about it.)

“The gift of solitude — There are times with we want nothing better than to be left alone. Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others. (But don’t assume they want to be left alone. They may be very lonely. Check first.)

“The gift of a cheerful disposition — The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone. Really, it’s not that hard to say ‘Hello’ or ‘Thank you.’”

Smiles cost nothing and are worth everything. All those other things are free too and can mean so much. Don’t ever say you have nothing to give. One Christmas, our granddaughter was strapped for cash, so she announced there would be no gifts from her. I asked her to write me a poem or a little letter. She did, and I still have it. It was a wonderful gift that came from her heart to my heart.

Over the years, the gifts that stay with me and mean the most are those that someone made with their own two hands and their imagination and ingenuity. We are very blessed to have family that give thoughtful, useful gifts that last and last through the year. I like to give those kinds of gifts, too.

Another little clipping I would like to share with you, but I do not know the author, is another version of “The Night before Christmas.”

“’Twas the night before Christmas, in one room of the house, some creatures were stirring (too much noise — not a mouse). Our boys in their room, supposedly sleeping, were doing a lot of talking and peeping, and dreaming of “Star Wars” and barbells and drums, and footballs and paint sets and so on and on.

“I was a bit curious as I heard all their chatter, and wondered just what in the world was the matter. I listened a minute, then reprovingly said, ‘Is that all Christmas means — just what you will get?’ Well, mothers, we realize it is Jesus’ birthday, but how can we give Him a gift Christmas Day?

“He made everything that there is on this Earth, so what could we give Him that’s of any worth? I thought of an answer already provided, and replied to their question in tones quite decided. “If you give some cold water to someone who needs it, you’re giving to Jesus. Let’s turn to Matthew and read it.

“Soon two little boys were asleep in their beds, but thoughts were still going around in their heads. That verse was so easy — too easy — to say, but how many needs had I noticed that day?”

We are missing the point of Christmas, if all we think about is buying gifts. We need to give of ourselves. I tasted the best candy this week. Our Linda made it. I hate to give her secrets away, but anyone can do this and it is fabulous. This keeps Christmas in our hearts all year. Taste the season!

Linda’s Peppermint Bark

2 packages white chocolate chips

Peppermint candy canes or hard candies (as many as you like), crushed

Melt chips in microwave. Stir in half of crushed candy. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with other half of candy. Cool in refrigerator. Break into pieces.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.