Christmas has turned from a “what’s in it for me” experience to a giving experience. For the past several years, my gratification has come from finding meaningful gifts for friends, no longer contemplating what treasures will be bestowed upon me.
My self-centered youth went on much longer than normal — beyond middle age. When I think of how much time I spent manipulating to get what I wanted, I am embarrassed.
Life is funny. Once I no longer cared about largesse for myself, wonderful offerings arrived, not only at Christmas but throughout the year.
This season exceeded all expectations. Telephone calls, flowers, cards and letters from people I haven’t heard from in many moons. Nirvana!
Wanting company on Christmas Eve, I invited a few friends. Surrounded by mystery writers, we had fun talking about how writers of thrillers kill characters off. Other guests discussed their real estate businesses. Who doesn’t love to discuss real estate prices, how the economy is faring and stuff like that?
The Helperts have lived in many places and eagerly contributed to the real estate chat. Another guest is a retired teacher, a lovely man, one I could envision as guiding his students with a firm but kind hand.
Added to this eclectic group was my lovely friend, Maria. Her graciousness and kindness to me the last few months overwhelm me. Although she has had a tragic life, she has great faith and loves her new life out here.
Although my asthma kicked in after Christmas, I ventured out to meet retired Oro Valley head librarian Jane Peterson for lunch. She surprised me with a gift of a teacup and tea inspired by one of my columns celebrating the Chantilly Tea Room. We had a lovely conversation reminiscing about our childhoods and how blessed we are to have had loving parents, in particular fathers who would deny us nothing.
But the coup de grace was the unexpected gifts received from my longtime California friend, Zena. Going through a terrible time as her husband waits for a heart transplant and health problems of her own, she’s been telling me about all the Christmas gifts she has not sent to me over the last three years. Finally, she got to the post office and mailed them to me.
The box was so big that the mail carrier delivered it to my door. A gorgeous woolen scarf. A fabulous bunny-soft throw. And then something I have always wanted: A Barbie doll that resembles Joan Collins in “Dynasty.” I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks.
Zena was brought up in the United Kingdom and has a terrific English accent. When we hung out together in Los Angeles, we kidded around about hot water bottles.
The last gift in the box was in the shape of a hot water bottle and filled with wheat; you warm it in the microwave.
What will they think of next? And what will the new year bring into my life?