Often times the most memorable and valuable gift of all is the one that was hand made for you with love by your mother or grandmother. These personal gifts bring with them a measure of sentiment that can be taken with you for the rest of your life.
When I was little I remember traveling with my parents to visit my great grandmother. She lived alone, in that second story apartment until she was almost 100 years old! Then she fell and broke her hip, so she moved downstairs. She was a very independent woman!
But, I digress. Other than her independence and her fabulous recipe for Swedish meatballs, my most vivid memory of her were her slippers. I remember her opening her bedroom closet and pulling out bags and bags of crocheted slippers. They were every color of the rainbow and had giant pompoms on the tops. She made hundreds of them and gave them to us every year for Christmas.
We loved those slippers because Nana made them with love. She chose the yarn, made the pompoms and worked for hours on each pair. I can’t imagine how hard it was to accomplish that detailed and repetitive skill with arthritic hands and failing eyesight. But she did it. She didn’t just do it, she LOVED to do it. For us.
Grandparents are infamous for their odd, quirky or downright ugly Christmas gifts. Yes, I know that this sounds ungrateful… and believe me I’ve received some real doozies. But I ALWAYS make sure that the respective grandparent knows how much I love the gift. I still have many horribly tacky sweaters that I’ve never worn, but I wouldn’t dream of getting rid of. I pull out my collection at least once a year and smile over every one.
Yes, many children dread receiving these well meant, but usually unusable gifts (a mental image of a white straw hat with a giant sunflower just popped into my head. I was given that gift when I was 16). But really, what a great lesson I learned, and my children can learn, about being gracious and truly thankful that a loved one went out of their way to pick out or even make the “perfect” gift, wrap it in beautiful paper, and wait with anticipation for you to open it.
Christmas should not be about how much was spent, or how many gifts you’ve been given. But sadly, it is that way for many children. I think that every child should be given a horribly tacky Christmas sweater every year. They should have the opportunity to see the love in their grandparents faces as they watch them open it. They should model it for their whole family and be repeatedly photographed in it.
Yes, it is embarrassing. But in 20 years, when they look back at the photos from that Christmas, they will see their grandparent’s face glowing with happiness. They will remember the love that their Nana felt for them, and remember how much they loved their Nana. They might even do what I do and secretly slip into that same ugly sweater on Christmas Eve and pretend that the itchy wool and uneven sleeves are really a big hug from that relative who loved them so much.
- History of the Trend: Holiday Sweaters (collegefashion.net)
- A Brief History of the Ugly Christmas Sweater (newsfeed.time.com)
- The Christmas Sweater has Returned (retailfix52.wordpress.com)