It's Christmas Eve 2016. I'm listening to one of my favorite Christmas CDs, by Mannheim Steamroller. And I feel nostalgic.
Christmas isn't a big thing for me. For the past three years, I have neither sent out holiday cards nor set up a tree. This year I didn't even set out my many Christmas decorations, including my small collection of hand-carved, wooden Grandfather Frost statues from Russia. And I have really cut back on my holiday baking. Gone are the days when I would make three or four kinds of cookies and a 3-pound pan of fudge. As a retiree, I no longer have the option of taking my sweet treats to work to share with coworkers. And I certainly don't need to eat all those calories by myself. I did make some peanut butter cup cookies to share with my daughter and son-in-law, and some shortbread for me. But that's it.
I am nostalgic because I'm thinking back to just a few years ago when my daughter (adopted at age 11 from an orphanage in Siberia) would get so excited about Christmas. I loved to shop for her and watch her face light up in delight on Christmas morning. She, of course, always had a list of things she wanted, and I was always able to come up with a few surprises as well.
She was so good at finding her presents, no matter where I hid them, that I finally resorted to hiding them in my office at work. But even that didn't keep them safe. So a co-worker suggested I hide them in her office when my daughter came to work to see me. So that's what I did.
Now, my daughter is 23, newly married and living a 45-minute drive from me. She and her husband will join me for Christmas dinner, but the joy of watching her open gifts is long gone. This year, as for the past few, I gave her money and gift cards. They recently moved into a rental townhouse and requested money to help pay for things for their new place. I also bought her a good set of kitchen knives and a toaster oven, two things she needed.
I know she has bought a couple of small items for me. There isn't much I need these days, but she did buy me a turquoise wallet to replace the one that wore out, as well as a couple of things for my house. So there is no surprise there. But that's OK. I don't need anything, and money is tight for her.
So even though the days of watching her face light up on Christmas morning are in the past, I still get to spend some time with her and my son-in-law on Christmas day. And that's a pretty special thing.