My son Chris and I discussed a couple of weeks ago when to have our Christmas gathering. I asked him to pick the time that works best for his family. He said Lauren (age 5) and Sean (age 2 ½) are fresher earlier in the day. I think fresh children are better than “un-fresh” children and thus, we will celebrate Christmas Eve with a brunch at my condo.
I am excited about all the joy and chaos that will occur tomorrow morning…. there will be the traditional hands-on-making-by-all of reindeer cookies; a wonderful brunch with beignets from Douceur de France (for Lauren); a honey baked ham and egg casserole and other foods; mimosas for the adults; dessert will be make your own hot fudge sundaes; and of course, the opening of gifts for Lauren and Sean.
I keep the gift giving simple—they each get two gifts and I have my version of stockings—called “giftings” which are small gift bags with some small toys such as small cars or balls that light up when you bounce them as well as a sticker book or some such small gift. The end result is lots of chaos and love and it takes me a while to get my condo back in order—but it is well worth it.
Gift giving can sometimes be a challenge—trying to come up with the “perfect” gift—but this year, I knew what I wanted to get Lauren and it had to do with our new tradition—Girls Night Out. You see, Lauren entered kindergarten in August and the opportunities I had for Nana days became limited as I have to schedule Nana days around her school calendar. As I dealt with this change, I realized I had to think outside the box.
So, I told Lauren that we would begin having a “Girls Night Out” once a month. On Girls Night Out, I pick her up after school and we go to dinner at a local restaurant, Frankie’s Italian Restaurant. I explained that we would not be going to Chick-fil-A or Stevie B’s Pizza but were having a grown-up night out at a restaurant that has a tablecloth and silverware (not plastic ware!)
Frankie’s is a perfect compromise as they have a paper tablecloth on the top of the real tablecloth and they give you crayons so that you can draw on the paper tablecloth. We draw and read and laugh and eat a highly carbohydrate-oriented meal of cheese pizza and French fries. It is great fun.
But Lauren’s Christmas gift was chosen because of her comments made to me on our very first Girls Night Out. When I picked her up at school, she came running to me and started talking real fast and she was saying “Nana, Nana….look” and she pulled out a Princess Anna (or was it Princess Elsa?) ring from her backpack and put it on her finger! She is waving her hand in the air. And then she unzipped her side pouch on her backpack and she pulled out some Mardi Gras beads and was dancing around and put them on… and she was so excited and kept saying….. “look, Nana, look!!”
I am thinking to myself “hmmm—what is this all about and I was commenting on how nice her rings and necklace were and so forth” and then she looked up at me and with shining eyes showed me her ring and necklace and clapped her hands together and said “Nana, I am ready for Girls Night Out.”
Oh….. my….. gosh….. my granddaughter knew that Girls Night Out meant wearing bling.
Therefore, it only seemed fitting that one of Lauren’s two gifts from me this year should be a small box that contains bling for Girls Night Out. I searched in many stores until I found the perfect box. It is not a fancy jewelry box …. It is more along the lines of a treasure box or old timey box but on the side in big letters is written the word “Love”.
I have put some “princess” necklaces inside and other jewelry of the appropriate color—shiny or pink. I will tell Lauren that this box has the word Love on the sides and it is also filled with love and that when we go out together, she needs to wear something special from her Girls Night Out treasure box.
As I started wrapping her small gift tonight, I found myself being a bit reflective. The Christmas season can be complicated—the demands on time are so great—and the media push seems to be for big gifts or expensive ones….. Sometimes great gifts truly are new computers and electronics or clothes or household items. And yes, we often enjoy getting gifts that were on our “Christmas List” of things we want. But what is the perfect gift and how do you find it? There is no one-size fits all answer.
It is my hope that this small and simple box filled with bling will be able to convey to Lauren a message of love that will last throughout the entire year and that she will know it came from the heart.
And that she will also know it was wrapped with love….. perhaps that is the greatest gift I can ever give her.
A box of bling….. and love.