In a recent blog I mentioned that I am an aunt to over 50 nieces and nephews. I guess I am a great-aunt to at least 30 or more, and a great-great aunt…. I haven’t counted them recently.
My mother had 10 children, and therefore from them became a grandmother to over 50 grand-children. She died 24 years ago, and for about the last 5 years or so of her life was unable to carry on the legacy that she had, previous to then.
She was a woman who regardless of her financial situation, made sure that she recognized each of her children and grandchildren on birthdays and Christmas. For each of their birthdays they were sent a card with a two dollar bill inside. It couldn’t be just any two dollar bill, it had to be clean and look new. If necessary she would ask cashiers to exchange one that she had for a newer looking one.
Christmas was the most fun as I used to go with her during the years she did it. We would go to our favorite department store and begin to shop. It depended on the age of the child what she would decide to buy. For the wee ones it was most likely a small book, and she inscribed each one. For the age of approximately 8 years plus, it would most likely be two pair of pretty underwear for the girls and for the boys two pair of socks each. Sometime if she felt like giving something different she would maybe get a couple of T-shirts for the boys. The parents most likely would get the same thing.
I loved going with her because by the time we checked out, the buggy would be full of dozens of socks and girls underwear and books. The look on the check-out person’s face was priceless. After all, it’s not often that they would come across this. Usually, my Mom would explain where it all was going, and a conversation would ensue.
After we got home the work started. Taking all the price tags off….it wouldn’t do that they would see how much they cost. Then we would start with each family and make piles ensuring that no one was forgotten. The wrapping came next as each one had to have Christmas paper. Between the wrapping and writing the tags out, it would be a several day event.
The presents that were staying in the same city were put into bags for each family. But for the out-of -town ones they then had to be wrapped again in the brown post office paper, with the name and address written for each family on the outside. All of one family’s were put into one package to make it simpler for shipping. Some were going to California…some to British Columbia and others to different cities within the same Province. Then came the trek to the Post Office to mail them all. Whatever way was the least expensive to mail would be done, but the cost of mailing was usually more than the cost of the gifts.
My mother could not be talked out of doing this, as some tried to do. It meant a lot to her to have something under the Christmas tree from her, especially the grandchildren. I’m not sure when she started doing this but I seem to just always remember her doing so.
She was a Christian and we always knew and celebrated the real meaning of Christmas but this was part of the celebration.
I have some of my Mom’s nature within me because I love to send birthday and Christmas cards to those I love. It’s tradition and a way of still connecting with some, that during the year there may not be the opportunity to do.
So while some may perceive this to be a somewhat silly or frivolous thing for her to do, it is one of my most special memories.