Growing up I have vivid memories of the perfect way my mom had about doing everything. The way she made my bed, folded my clothes, cut my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and drew little dogs and cats on paper during the boring parts of Sunday worship (my attempt at using non-Mormon words for my Mormon past). Christmas was no exception. Every memory has the touch of my mama in it. Our decorations, still put up every year for the granbabies, mostly made with her artistic hand. I remember making clay bears when I must have been very young. If I close my eyes I can almost feel myself in that kitchen with her and my older sister putting together messy little bears, cooking them, and painting them to put on our tree. I had fun making them but I liked her bears the best because they were perfect. I remember the way she packed her smell so good gingerbread ornaments (I think that is what they were made of anyway) in shirt boxes with paper towels to keep them from breaking. And my favorites, the little fabric packages stacked and tied with a string and the tiny mice sleeping in half a walnut shell; although I'm not sure if she made those, I would imagine she did because we were poor and she was that perfectly crafty, without Etsy or Pinterest or anything.
Gifts for my Mad Maddie
Every Christmas Eve my sisters and I would be sent off to bed with instructions not to peek into the family room until our parents came to get us in the morning. We were never really Santa believers but we just knew if we peeked our mom and dad would know and, as I recall, they would take all our presents away. In the morning, much too late for our parents would bring us down the hallway and into the family room where the Christmas tree was located. My dad would have been recording our sleepy eyed reactions as we entered the room. There it was, a pile of beautifully wrapped gifts, an individual wrapping paper pattern for each daughter, beneath the tree. I loved the pretty packages. No bows or ribbons, just plain paper with a little piece reversed and taped with our name on it. And of course our stockings spread out on the floor full of little candies and presents.
I found matching jammies for my babies!
As I grew older and started wrapping my own gifts for friends and family she shared her trick with me; you crease the edges of each box to make it look neat. I have practiced for years trying to make my packages look as effortlessly perfect as hers did. Turns out it isn't as easy as she made it look. Maybe by the time Maddie can REALLY remember her wrapped Christmas gifts I will have it down. I want her to have the same memories of me that I have of my own mama so she can pass more memories down to her babies. I want her to always come home and want me to cut her peanut butter and honey sandwiches just so, to have her bed made just the way I did it, sheets tucked tight, and to come out on Christmas morning to pretty perfectly wrapped gifts, edges creased.
My imperfectly wrapped gifts.
I only wish she could remember how soft my skin was and think that I never had to shave my legs. Alas, unlike my mama, that will never be true.