Twelve Months of Christmas

The tiny wrapped present had somehow gotten hidden beneath the tree skirt in the hubbub of Christmas morning. Now all the wrapping paper, ribbons, and family had departed, and the lonely package remained undiscovered. 

Gathering the empty ornament boxes, she went to work. Tissue wrapping each ornament from the decades old family collection was a chore she preferred to do alone. And no one would notice any stray tears either.

As she finished, she carefully folded the billowing tree skirt. That’s when the tiny package tumbled out. Smiling, she saw her name on the tag. Her son had cleverly hidden the package knowing she’d find it in just the way she had.

Underneath the shiny red paper, a tiny wooden box contained a small slip of paper. At the top of the paper was the word LOVE. Then underneath were all the family member’s names—each name next to a month of the year. The tradition started long before she was born—in a time when there weren’t as many gifts, nor money. But her great grandmother had discovered a way to extend the love of Christmas throughout the year.

Each month the person whose name was selected did something for the person beneath. It wasn’t to be a gift that cost money—only time and love. Holding the small box she remembered surprises she had received randomly over the years—a carved doll from grandpa, an apron from mom, an outdoor flower garden from her daughter, a handcrafted jewelry box from her son. And a loving poem from her husband tucked away in her dresser. Treasures of love and so many fun stories to share afterwards.

As she looked at the names, there were loved ones no longer on the list, but new names kept being added as the kids married and had kids of their own.  It began as a way to keep the love of Christmas throughout the year, but had woven the family together—one month and one person at a time.

She held the box close to her heart and looked forward to being the first one to give love away in January.

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