Monday, December 21, 2009

The Art Of Gift Giving

Cliff Morrow

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas was almost torture for little boys, as I recall. I always had trouble getting to sleep because of course the presents under the tree would make my imagination run wild. I do not recollect that the black and white television we had had indoctrinated me into wanting anything in particular except possibly a Cowboy Bob gun and holster set which I did receive from Santa one Christmas.
Our tree would be surrounded by presents of every shape and size. Mom wasn't into elegant gift wrapping. She didn't have the time to do that. She was a farm wife and I think her main goal was the same as mine is today, to disguise the gift. That's all. To camouflage whatever was in the package.
After I had learned to read well enough to figure out what my name looked like on a tag, I became very sneaky about casually laying down by the tree and glancing over at the gifts to see if maybe my name was on one of them. Sure enough, I always had a few gifts that said TO: Cliff FROM: Mom and Dad. That information - that my name was actually there under the tree - would make it hard to get to sleep for the next five or 10 nights before Christmas.
I don't recall my age when I started wanting to reciprocate with the gift giving but it finally happened and I told Mom about it. She would remedy this by taking me along to town the next time she went grocery shopping. Somehow I had a dollar in my Cowboy Bob billfold and would have my head on a swivel in search of a gift.
Mom stopped in front of the chocolate covered cherries and told me a story about how her mother always loved them and as a matter of fact, they were Mom's favorite too. "Well, let's buy some" I would say and she would reply "They're 59 cents, maybe next time."
Hey, I have a plan, I would think to myself, and as Mom was checking out I would circle back to the candy section and grab a box of chocolate covered cherries. Somehow my Mom would lose track of me and stand at the front window of the store and stare out, looking to see if Cliff had already gone out to the car. That gave me enough time to take my box to the cashier who was always discreet about my gift purchase and would carefully bag the box and give me my 41 cents change before Mom turned around to see her six-year-old buying a box of candy. Probably the best part was being able to get to the car and into the house back at the farm, without Mom noticing that I was carrying a small bag of groceries.
Mom got chocolate covered cherries for Christmas and her birthday for several years in a row. They were the most thoughtful and best gift she had ever received. At least that's what she said. Mom was always very happy and sometimes moved to tears when she opened them. But not as proud and happy as I was to be standing there and watching her open a gift I had thought of myself.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since those days and I'm afraid I haven't been able to think of a gift to give anyone, to make them as thrilled as Mom was with those cherries. Mom did understand the true meaning of Christmas and showed it. She truly knew how to give and receive as well as anyone I ever knew. I think sometimes we aren't very good at the receiving part, as we could be.
A few years ago, I stopped by a live nativity scene to watch and ponder what was going on. The center of attention was the real baby they had laid in the manger. Even the livestock they had hauled to town seemed to realize that something special was happening in the center of it all.
Contemplating the scene made me realize that Mom hadn't invented gift giving at its finest.


EV said...

That was the finest message you will ever give, Cliff. Merry Christmas!

Marc said...

Fine Post Cliff.

Mine happened sort of the same, except my Mom's passion was plants and flowers.

Our neighbors had a Nursery as their livelihood. It was easy to sneak over there and buy a beautiful plant or potted flower for under a dollar.

I am sure now that they sold for much more, but they played along too, even giving me a free TO: From tag.

Marc said...

PS: Happy First Day Of Winter, today.

Paul Nichols said...

Mighty fine stuff again, Cliff.

Merry Christmas to you and Marilyn--and to your whole growing family.

Shannon said...

Merry Christmas Cliff!

Peter said...

I'm sending some "virtual" cherries over for you Cliff. Merry Christmas.

Jim said...

Good story, Cliff. I believe most of it is true!
I wouldn't trade you weather for a couple of days even though we are going to be fairly cold Christmas day.

Merry Christmas Cliff, Marilyn, and Julie.

possum said...

Great story... Sounds like you had a great mom... Lucky you!

nora said...

Your mama was clearly an amazing woman! Anyone who actually likes those cherries must be a champ!
And you're a fine son for being so thoughtful!

Kendra Lynn said...

merry Christmas, Cliff! I hope your time with family and friends is blessed and full of love.


Rachel said...

Great post Cliff! Your Mom was a true champion of a woman!

I hope you are enjoying the snow and that you and Marilyn and everyone else has a wonderful blessed Christmas!!!

Granny Annie said...

Bravo Cliff and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Jerry in Indiana said...

I think your Mom and mine would have a lot in common. Christmas was very sad this year without Mom there to open her box of candy. Your story made me tear up a bit.

Hope you had a great Christmas!

Jamie Dawn said...

Beautiful post and excellently written too, also, I might add, as well.
I don't have to wonder if you all enjoyed your Christmas. I know this holiday season has been and will be spent surrounded by your kids and grandkids, with lots of giggles, fun, and a big portion of love being dispensed to each person and also reciprocated.
We did something we've never done before. We had a Cratchett family Christmas without gifts or cards, just the warmth of love and thankful hearts for just being together. My mom broke the rules though (we didn't mind) and sent new pjs for us all. Good mommas are priceless treasures, and it sounds like your momma was pure gold!
I pray God blesses your family with happiness and health in 2010!!!
Happy Holidays, Cowboy Bob Junior!!

Dorothy said...

Great story, happy holidays...this is my first time visit to your blog..

Dorothy from grammology

Miki said...

Cliff, great Christmas story. I know how your Mom felt. I am moved to tears by my children's gifts. NO matter how small, no matter what they cost, they are true gifts from the heart. They wrap them by themselves, tag them, (sometimes) and place them under the tree. My daughter was so excited that she came home from the Holiday fair at school with gifts for everyone. Then we hit the dollar store with her own money! That was fun for her too! The boys buy gifts too, but are too old for the fair at the elementary school. I love that you have a live nativity in your town. We have huge figurines, they used to be set up in town, but now are set up by the Catholic Church near town. (It has a village address, so I guess that counts) THe local Knights of Columbus sponsors and sets it up, they store it too.
HOpe your CHristmas was merry this year!

LZ Blogger said...

Cliff ~ What a wonderful message about gift giving! The funny part about the chocolate covered cherries is that they happen to be my favorite as well. But the only time I allow myself to have them (for obvious reasons) is Christmas, because in 41 years of marriage, Mrs. LZ has bought me a box of those each year. The biggest difference is they are no longer 59¢ a box and the size of the box went from 20 in a box down to 12 over all those years. But the taste is still just as wonderful! I like the dark chocolate ones the best, with the really sloppy clear junk on the inside. SNOW? What snow? This is just some Al Gore White Global Warming! Get your carbon offsets soon, before Al uses them to buy another corporate jet to fly from speech to speech and creating blizzards in his path! I hope that you and Marilyn had a great Christmas even if two thirds of the kids and grandkids couldn't be there. I've got a story to tell there too! ~ jb///

Lanny said...

Great story, great last line.