Submitted by Patricia Bubash, M.Ed., LPC
When I think about my past Christmases, I always remember one special gift I received. It was a gift truly made with a mother’s love. This gift exemplified the value of a present not purchased but, instead, coming from the heart.
As a hopeful, but doubtful, 10–year-old, I was still hanging on to a fleeting hope that there really was a Santa Claus. This hope was probably facilitated by the lack of money available for Christmas gifts that year. My dad, an enlisted man serving in the Navy, was out at sea. Every three years, we knew that he would be shipped out for nine months; these were always tough months for my young mom, but her task as a temporary single mom was greater that year because of her pregnancy. With only a month to go until she was due, her physical discomfort was obvious, and she could find few comfortable sleeping positions. In the days leading up to that Christmas, I often woke up in the late hours of the night, even early morning, and heard the sewing machine. At the time, I decided sleep was evading my mom and dropped back into the sound sleep of the young.
My mother was excellent at stretching money, and she had a talent for providing good, nourishing meals and sewing clothing. Many of the clothes my sister and I wore were sewn by my mother. She would see a dress in a store window and come home and create a pattern. Despite my mother’s talents, I knew that, unless there really was a Santa, gifts would be sparse that year. Our family income was sufficient but not even close to extravagant. At 10 years old, I knew the reality of our situation unlike my not quite four-year-old sister whose Christmas list kept growing.
One of the most desired items on my list was a “paper taffeta” rose-colored party dress. My best friend had such a dress, and I was so envious. In my eyes, that dress was equal to the trappings of a princess. While I was preoccupied with thoughts of that lovely dress, a beautifully wrapped gift appeared under our very tiny tree. The paper was wrapped in silver and gold foil, decorated with pictures of Santa, and tied with a lovely silvery bow. Not only was this the loveliest gift under the tree, it was meant for me! My name was on the gift tag, and the gift giver was none other than “Santa.” I couldn’t believe it! For the next two weeks, I lay on the floor and stared at that shiny, glittering package. When no one was looking, I shook it for clues.
Christmas Day finally arrived, and of course, you know which gift I grabbed first. It seemed a shame to destroy the beautiful wrapping paper, but I was too excited to unwrap it carefully. And, there it was, the dress of my dreams: a paper taffeta, rose-colored party dress! There is a picture somewhere of me taking that dress out and hugging it with joy and happiness.
For another year, I believed that Santa Claus was still out there granting wishes, but eventually, I was told the truth by classmates who were “in the know”. I took it hard. Then I realized that Santa hadn’t found a copy of my much desired dress. I realized that all of my mother’s late hours were spent sewing that dress in order to make me a gift of magic and love. She told me later that every time I entered the room when she was sewing that she would toss the unfinished dress out the window so I wouldn’t see it. My mother not only made the dress, she also took the time to beautifully wrap my gift. In this case, the packaging truly enhanced the beauty of the gift.
My sisters and I have other stories that exemplify the love, creativity, and special thought that my mother gave to our gifts and to the gifts of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her gifts were truly from the heart. We are so grateful for all our lovely memories of her and grateful to her for showing us the true meaning of gift giving.