Christmas gift-giving indicates a  lot of things about people, and in my family, it reveals some character flaws that were heretofore not apparent.  Sneakiness,  failure to keep promises are only two such faults that have surfaced.

For example, our older son, Tim, always declares that we, particularly yours truly, are the hardest people in the world for whom to buy gifts.  At Thanksgiving, he told me, “I’m going to call you next Wednesday, and I want you to list some things you’d like to have or that you wouldn’t mind having for Christmas.”  I agreed, providing he reciprocated by telling me what  he and Loyce could use.

True to his word,  he called to say that his heart’s desire was a pair of long silk underwear to wear on the golf course, and Loyce could use a contraption that shrink seals fruits, veggies and meats for the freezer, or failing that, they could use an electric heater that looks like an old fashioned radiator. This heater is filled with oil and uses a miniscule amount of electricity.  They would use the heater in their motor home to prevent freeze-ups when the temperature gets down around zero.  He assured me this last item should be easy  to find because one of his friends found the heaters at Wal-Mart and Dollar General in Hot Springs, Ark.

I, in turn, told him I could probably use a food processor.  True, I had one several years ago. didn’t like it and gave it away.  Maybe I have grown more tolerant and could learn to appreciate one now. Or, I added, my little mixer that hangs on the wall and is guaranteed to eliminate lumps in gravy has bitten the dust and I could use a replacement. Or — the remote control to the TV in the den rejected my offer of new batteries and declared that it has reached retirement age. We could use a new one, provided somebody else programmed it to work.  Otherwise, I’d just go on  punching the buttons on the TV itself.

“Take your pick,” I told him.  “Any one of those will be fine.”   

I didn’t have any luck finding the electric heater, but I did find the contraption that shrinks and seals anything that gets in its way, and one of the catalogs had plenty of men’s long silk underware in large, extra tall.  My Christmas buying for these family members was pretty well taken care of, and I hadn’t had any trouble buying for the other son.

I was surprised on Christmas morning when I found just how sneaky my older son had become. He had shared my list with the younger son and I got all the things on my list plus a few extras.

George and I  had agreed when we bought a new car two weeks earlier that this auto was a joint gift and we would not buy gifts for each other  to open on Christmas morning.  George had looked relieved when I suggested this and had said, “That’ll sure take a lot of pressure  off me.  I never know what to get you.” 

I almost weakened several times and I was absolutely miserable on Christmas Eve because I wanted so badly to go to town and buy him something, but I had promised  I wouldn’t and I keep my promises, noble creature that I am. I knew he hadn’t bought anything for me because he is a man of his word, I thought.

After all the packages were opened  Christmas morning, he brought out a large white box and  said,  “You’ ll have to take this unwrapped.  You never got out  of my way long enough that I had a chance to wrap it.”

The box contained a good looking pantsuit with a  sweater color keyed to the lining of the jacket.  There were also a matching necklace and earrings. The outfit was lovely.  When I saw the size, I thought it would probably be too small considering all the candy, cookies and other goodies I’ve been packing away since Thanksgiving, but I received mercy and not justice and even the pants fit like they were made for me.

I had mixed feelings.  I loved the outfit, but he had broken his promise.  We had agreed, I kept protesting.

At his insistence, I wore it to church Christmas morning, and a friend commented, “Well, don’t  you look sharp!”

 “Yeagh,” I snarled.  “But my husband cheated on me.” 

Our family has solemnly agreed that next year we will not buy gifts for each other.  We won’t go through all that hassle of Christmas crowds.  We will nobly give our money to people who really need it.

Maybe if I start right now during the sales, I can  find just the right gifts for my sneaky promise-breaking family for next Christmas.  I hope so.

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An unexpected gift I received this year is one that is truly a part of the giver.  I’ve known Merry Monroe for many years.  She was my English student, then she grew up to work with  Byng Indian Education with me.  Since I retired, I haven’t seen Merry often, but recently our church and hers, High Hill Indian Church, cooperated  in hosting a funeral dinner.  Merry was there and we had a nice visit.  She told me she sings with a group of 100 Native American women (ages 16-86).    The group, wearing tribal dress,  sings traditional hymns, unaccompanied, in the languages of the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma.   Called Native Praise, the chorus has performed all over Oklahoma and in the mid-Atlantic states of  North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.  They had sung this past summer in England .  The choir members are responsible for their own travel expense, and Merry says

it’s  truly amazing how this group manages to come up with money for plane tickets when they have an invitation .

Merry surprised me by bringing me a copy of  Native Praise hymns they performed on their tour of England last summer.  “It’s  a Christmas gift,” she told me. 

Thanks, Merry.  I’ve enjoyed  your CD  and plan to continue enjoying i.t.

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Another unexpected gift I’ve appreciated i is a tree ornament made by clients of the Adult Day Care group.   I was unable to attend their Christmas party  on December 23 but director Donna Bennett  sent me a sample of their craftsmanship: a Nativity scene . This group, both women and men, are a crafty bunch.  Any time take supplies to them, they always respond with a handmade “thank you.” card that uses buttons, and other “found” sewing items in its construction.

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We’re still in the process of trying to distribute copies of “Seasoned with Salt”, the church history many of you ordered in advance.  We haven’t been able to get in touch with everyone.  Lynda Dixon is presently out of town , so call me, if you ordered a book.  We have left a few of both hardback and softback editions..  They are priced at $16.16 and $11.75.