It’s crunch time for you Christmas shoppers. Just two days left to get the perfect gift for that special someone on your list. I hope you do as well as my grandmother did when I was 14. Because that was the year she gave me the best Christmas present ever.
It started out as more of a protest than a Christmas present. Grandma came to our house for dinner in February with one of her famous cakes. She baked it from scratch as she always did, without that cheatin Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines mix. Grandma was a purist and took pride in her desserts.
After dinner she started to dish it out and was shocked when I declined a piece. To her horror I announced that I had given up dessert for Lent, a practice encouraged by my Sunday School teacher to earn brownie points in Heaven.
I tried to convince her that it was my own decision, but she was having none of that. She was convinced there was a conspiracy at play. Another attempt by my overly strict parents to to deny us both the pleasure of her baking.
While the rest of the family enjoyed her cake, Grandma sat in stony silence. What kind of family would do such a thing to a child? I was clearly the victim of the worst type of parental abuse.
A Rebellious Act Of Love
Grandma bided her time and plotted her revenge. She would not sit idly by and watch me be deprived. She gave me the most subversive and clever gift a grandmother ever presented a grandson. The best Christmas present ever.
Swearing me to silence, she handed me an envelope with the business card of the manager of Swensen’s Ice Cream Parlor a few blocks from my school. She instructed me to go down to the shop and present the card after school.
Off I went to find that I was the first and only 8th grader in the history of Pleasant Hill, California to have his own secret charge account at an ice cream shop.
Mind you, this was long before gift cards were invented. So it took Grandma some work to convince the store manager to set it up. But I could walk into Swensen’s anytime I wanted and order anything on the menu.
It didn’t take long for me to get the hang of it. I made regular visits and started treating my friends like the big shot I suddenly was. Boy did it make me feel special.
My parents never found out because I sure as hell wasn’t going to tell. It was our little secret. Grandma knew how to make me feel loved, and she was the one person in my life who was always, even defiantly, in my corner. No matter what.
The Lasting Memory Of A Gift
It’s been over 40 years since Grandma gave me my best Christmas present ever. $20 on an ice cream account back then lasted me several months. But the memory of her caring and willingness to fight for me has lasted my entire life. When I think of all the gifts I’ve given and received over the years, I can’t think of anything that has had a greater impact.
Was it because of the secrecy? That added to the delight, certainly. But it was much more than that. It was because she was willing to break all the rules. She thought I’d been deprived so she went well beyond convention to make sure I wouldn’t be deprived again.
She evened the score, then she ran it up.
Your Best Christmas Present Ever
So as you’re out there trying to honor your loved ones this season, take a lesson from Grandma. Be subversive. Be creative. Be Impressive, Manic or otherwise.
Be willing to go beyond the unwrapping Christmas morning to the true test of a gift. Make your present convey your love and caring for those you gift. Let them know you’re in their corner, no matter what, with something that shows your unconditional love.
Something they’ll be willing to keep secret for a long, long time…