There will be no purchased gifts for me for Christmas, she said. No Gifts? Absolutely not one single purchased gifts! The family stopped. It was as though the clock on the landing had stopped even though it was wound tight. Grandchildren tried to picture Christmas with out one gift. Children could not believe what they had just heard. She had always been the one that beat a gift to pieces trying to figure out what was inside. The guessing, at least for her, was the best part…far better than the knowing.
No gifts???? The silence around the Thanksgiving turkey clad table was complete. The only sound was the coffee brewing in the other room. Was there something wrong. Was she going away? Was she…well…dying? Did she want to get rid of all her personal possessions and join a cult. Was she flying away to Africa to dig wells. Like her gifts, they almost felt that not knowing would be better.
Finally, the second to the oldest grandson spoke up. Grandma? E was a boy/man of few words. Days would go by with not a word from his lips. Good morning really meant I fine, I slept well, I brushed my teeth, etc. It was just his way. He was the one that asked Why? It was the first of her Christmas words.
Well, she said, what I really need is what I get very few of and are very precious to me. I need words! Lots of them. I need them to be written on paper. I need them to come through the mail to me when I go back home. I really, really need words. So for my gift this year, everyone needs to mail me one letter sometime before next Christmas. Each letter needs to have at least 50 words in it. Fifty wonderful gifts that I can savor like chocolate.
They all stared at her in silence. As one they all sighed in relief. Then, without prompting, the words flew through the air. She was not going away. They loved her. Questions, opinion, ideas, stories, jokes floated across the table. Glorious music to her ears. A rain of early Christmas gift words and she knew there would be more to come. Words that were promised…promises kept. After all she had raised them that way.
She became very quiet and listened. The smile that crossed her face came from deep within. She knew that all her life this was the gift that she needed more than anything. Then she realized that secretly, she knew that there would be just one present for her to shake and guess at under the tree. It would be a box of promises of words to come!