Showing posts with label gifts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gifts. Show all posts

Friday, October 21, 2016

It's a Surprise - Don't Tell Grandpa

          Recently I had dragged some blankets out of the shed.  On one, there was a picture of a deer in a snow covered wood.  I smiled as I held it out, not because of the picture, but rather the memory of getting it.

          It was a gift to Roland from Tony, Rochelle and Ester. I don't know how hold Ester was at the time - two, probably. She is the one who presented the gift to Roland (I'm thinking on his birthday) and beamed as she watched him open it.

          "It's a blanket!" she announced before he had it completely unwrapped.

          I wish I could bottle up that joy and enthusiasm and take it out during those times when I am really not feeling joyful.  Currently, I am taking an accounting class.  It is my only class and so I have more time for just one class then I have with every other mod taking two classes. 

          Accounting: the language of business.  Oh, gag me with a fork.  What in the world possessed me to pick a major associated with business.  Admittedly, I think I like it better than my management class - but then again, I've only had one week of it.  I'm struggling a bit - I think more with the concept than the work itself. 

          I'm actually not the only one in my accounting class that has these emotions.  I can sense some tension amongst my other classmates.  At least two are more troubled by the concept of the course than I am.  What have I gotten myself into?

Friday, December 11, 2015

It Really is the Simple Things

          Christmas does not have to be about spending money or exchanging gifts - though I love the gift giving thing.  There are some years that we have really had to stretch. We have been recipients of "Sub for Santa" many times. Overall, I think those are the most memorable.  And I have really been touched by all of those who have made an effort to our cause.

          We moved to West Valley at the end of 2009.  It was hard to leave our Kearns ward family - but at the same time, we felt that the move was the right thing for us. Less than a week before Christmas, I received a call from the Relief Society President of the ward we had left.  She said that she had gifts for us from the ward.  She came in the second snowstorm of that season.  She brought two other sisters with her.  Their gifts more than doubled the amount of gifts that we already had.

          The next year was Tony's first year in the WV house.  Our gifts were even more sparse than the year prior (before adding gifts from the Kearns ward). Roland's mom and sister had sent us gifts every year, but we hadn't received a package from them that year. I think we had three gifts for Jenna and one for each of the boys.  Roland and I had only one present for one another.  Both simple (like a twinkie sized furuit cake from me;  Roland actually likes fruitcake - but that's beside the point)

          It was just after 10:00 p.m. when I placed the eight gifts beneath the tree and went to bed.  I was really tired and wanted to sleep.  I was in awe the next morning to find an explosion of gifts beneath our tree.  I couldn't even imagine where they had all come from.

          As it turns out, both Tony and Biff had decided to play Santa as well.  Tony had purchased several gifts for each family member, and Biff had kept a huge secret from us as Richard's mom and sister had taken him shopping earlier in August.  They had loaded up his car with gifts  Neither Tony nor Biff was aware that the other had also played Santa.

          I love Christmas.  I love the suspense.  I love the Spirit of giving and doing.  Recently I read a post on facebook which touched my heart.  My friends were driving the Salt Lake roads when traffic had come to a halt.  In the intersection was a woman behind the wheel of a stalled truck.  A man had seen her and tried to help.  When the truck wouldn't start, he offered to push. 

          Seeing that assistance was still needed for moving the truck, my friend got out of his car to assist with pushing also.  The next thing my friends saw others had left their cars and were helping to push the truck out of the intersection.  No honking of cars or verbal abuse from other drivers.  The lights had changed, but every driver seemed to be patiently waiting - on the roads of Salt Lake.  That, my friends, is truly a Christmas miracle.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve Elephants

                           The first name drawn to pick a gift was our granddaughter, Ester
                       Carrie suggested this white elephant she had wrapped.  Ester loved it.

                                                 The expression on my face says it all

                       Jeanie was next to pick a gift.  She opened the clock that we had brought.
                Carrie took that from her and next Jeanie opened a set of Futeboy soccer players.

        Then Randy decided he wanted the Futeboys (our bowling pins had not yet been open)
                                           and so Jeanie had to pick out something else.

                            She opened the snowman that we brought and gave orders for no one                            to take it from her. I figured when we had made our purchase that she would like it the most

        Roland LOVES Superman.  He opened this gift and surprisingly no one took it from him

                            next was Biff who received a knife. He wants to use it with fishing

                           Tony got the bowling set and Rochelle opened the last gift
                                   which was a stuffed mushroom which Ester Loves

                                       and then Randy and Jenna played with the futeboys

                                            Jenna's been sick.  It was good to see her smile

                         They both enjoyed playing the game.  Randy let Jenna have the game
                          and allowed her to trade some lame gift she had received.  An Idiot's
                           Guide to a Near Death experience along with som sour cream and
                              onion flavored crickets.  It was almost as if having one (eating
                                crickets) would give you the other (a near death experience).

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

12 Days of Nativity

About a year and a half ago, after we cleaned mom’s house, I reclaimed my nativity mentioned here and learned that it was just too large for my small house and my less-than-tidy family.  Last year was the only year I put it up.

My family had sent me a wooden nativity the first Christmas I was on my mission.  The nativity consisted of five pieces: Mary, Joseph, two lambs and the baby Jesus.  My brother Patrick had painted each of the figures. 

Two years after I had returned from my mission, I had purchased a bunch of Christmas items that went on clearance following the holidays.  One of the items I purchased was a three-piece wooden set with painted camel, the three wisemen and a shepherd.  I added those to my existing nativity.  That is what I used for several years after Roland and I were married.

My mom had given me a small nativity sometime before we had moved to West Valley.  It was smaller than my wooden set, and often I displayed both sets.  I hope that they are still in the shed, but it dawned on me that since I haven’t run across either, that they may have been in the same box with my dip n drape nativity – never to be seen again.  Except for a wooden lamb that somehow drifted from the rest of the set, and a small Mary from the other.  

Randy said he wished I had given him the nativity – which is odd, because of all my children, I figure that he really wouldn’t want it.  Thus I thought I would give him one of the missing nativities, should I have come across them. But alas, it is still not discovered.

Last year Roland purchased another nativity set and put Biff in charge of picking out the figures.  I have Mary, Joseph, three wisemen, a donkey, a lamb, a camel, an angel and surely you’ve heard of the Christmas rooster – which by the way is almost the same size as the sheep.  And so this year I added Ooki’s elephant to the set.  The rooster actually looks more out of place than the elephant does.

Well, somebody has decided to give each of our activity girls a nativity set – one piece at a time. Jenna received Mary on the 16th I believe.  I noticed one of her friends had taken a picture of her Mary and posted that someone had left it along with the scripture.  The scripture that came with the first nativity figure was Luke 1:26-31.

The following day Jenna received Joseph who came with a verse from the children’s songbook.  The third day was a donkey.  The forth day was the Stable.  The fifth day was a cow.  And the next three days were wisemen.

         Jenna had diligently taken pictures.  The last she took was of the cow.  She had borrowed my LG cell phone – which I had to replace as it cut the conversation.  I still use it as a directory and had told Jenna that she could borrow it to take to school for a brilliant idea she had wanted to make as a gift for her teachers.  Unfortunately it did not work out.  I had forgotten I would need a chip to transfer pictures, but did not have a chip on hand nor do I want to invest in another after losing two chips already.

Unlike the nativity that I received last year, Jenna’s includes a shepherd – which came next and was followed by a sheep.  We’ll have to see what the next two days bring.  I imagine that Christmas Eve will come with the Christ Child.  Pics will come – eventually.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Truth About Santa


Almost every year since we moved to West Valley, Roland will ask, “When should we tell Jenna about Santa Clause” 

I always answer, “Tell her what?”

“There’s no such thing as Santa”

“What do you mean?”

He gives me a look.

“Roland.  I believe in Santa.  I have been Santa.  And we have been recipients of Santa a huge amount of times.  What do you mean there’s no such thing as Santa?”

“We need to tell Jenna that you and I are the ones who put the presents out.”

“Oh . . . why?”

“You don’t want her to be the only one in third, forth, fifth grade to still believe.”

“Tony is 23, 24, 25 and he still believes in Santa Clause. I’m 48, 49 . . . and I still believe.”
Another rolling of the eyes.

Media warns us about targeted homes during this time of the year.  Robbed of Christmas by thieves.  We left the house around 2:30 and did not return until after 8:30.  We had always done Christmas Eve at mom’s house.  Perhaps a few times at Patrick and Sunny’s.  But I did not spend Christmas with my sibs last year.  Each had made obligations with other people.  Roland, Jenna, Biff and I spent Christmas Eve with mom.

This year Randy took it upon himself to host the family gathering on Christmas Eve.  All three Romero boys with their wives, our granddaughter Ester, Roland, Jenna and I gathered at the home of Randy and Carrie.  We spent some time together before exchanging gifts – something we had always done with mom.

Before we left for Randy and Carrie's house I turned on the light in the backroom and plugged in the Christmas tree.  I prayed that we would not become a target of thievery.  Upon our return home we discovered the opposite.  Instead of taking (or stealing) gifts, someone had left two bags full of presents.  FULL.  I think it is the third or forth time we’ve returned home to find presents left on our door step (though the first time in this house) Santa also left this note:

I would have thought Jenna herself had done it just to prove a point.  But of course she couldn’t have.

“See daddy.  Santa is real,” she said to Roland.  
 Just moments later she asked me, “Why doesn’t daddy believe in Santa Clause?”

“I don’t know.  I have explained it to him just as I have with you.”

When Jenna was six I told her that Santa does not always wear red.  He doesn’t necessarily have a white beard or a very large belly.  Sometimes Santa is not even male nor does he always appear in the winter time.  Sometimes “Santa” may leave a sack of groceries on your doorstep in the summer or leave a coat or warm blanket for you in the fall.  Santa goes by many different names.  And he likes to remain anonymous.

Many have commercialized Christmas. Santa becomes a symbol of selling product – the commercialized Santa.  Not the Spirit of Santa – or the Spirit of Christ.  When one gives secretly. Santa is a symbol of Christ.  I sincerely believe that.

Roland and I purchased the game “Operation” and Jenna had picked out a pair of shoes that were on close out.  She said we could wrap them and put them under the tree. Those were the only two things that we had purchased for Jenna.  Now (I kid you not) there are about 30 presents under the tree just for her – at least I think they are for her.  Santa put tags on all of the wrapped items but neglected to put names on any of the tags – and so we will just have Jenna open all gifts with no names and let her divvy them out as she sees fit.

Roland’s mom has sent gifts in the past, but I recall our second year in WV there was nothing in the mail from her.  I wasn’t upset about it, but I was surprised.  As Christmas got closer, I hadn’t given it much thought.  

Biff and Tony were both living at home (Randy was on his mission) and things were tight that year.  I think we purchased three small gifts for each person.  I had placed them beneath the tree before 10:00 (first visit from Santa) 

When I awoke the next morning, there was 3-4 times the amount of presents than there had been when I went to bed.  Tony had a generous heart that year and decided that he would play Santa (2nd visit) and Biff (who had spent two weeks in August with Roland’s family) had placed gifts beneath the tree from Roland’s family and Santa (3rd visit) That year was definitely full of surprises.

We have been blessed immensely.  I hope to play Santa to others the way others have played Santa to our family.  Although when we have been the recipients our gifts seem to outweigh anything that Roland and I have done on our own.  Jenna’s going to be overwhelmed.  I know I am.  It's kind of like mom and dad stopped by to surprise us - but of course I think tangible gifts had to have come from a tangible being.  Perhaps someone related to mom and dad? 

Monday, December 16, 2013


Last year Ellen took my mom to the store to purchase three gifts.  I don't know whether Ellen suggested it or if mom had thought on her own to get her three youngest grandchildren one gift each.

When I saw them on the table I asked my mom about them.

"What are these?" I asked.

"I don't know.  I think they're Ellen's"

I didn't think they were.

I didn't see much of Ellen when I was at mom's house.  But somewhere we made a connection and I had asked if they really were hers.  She said that mom had purchased them for Jenna, Anna and Gary but she hadn't gotten around to wrapping them.

I wrapped them and tagged them and placed them under the tree.  My mom kept asking who the gifts were for and where they came from.  She didn't seem to even know that Christmas was coming up pretty soon.

She was like a kid on Christmas day.  Who knew it would be the last Christmas that we would spend in her house?  or that it would be her last Christmas on earth?

Many of us are missing her this Christmas.  Many of us our thinking about our last holiday season together.  I'm grateful for the happy memories that help us to make this season a little more pleasant.

I really do miss you Mom!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

more on Giving Gifts (and crushed enthusiasm)

          When I asked Jenna what she wanted to get her dad for Christmas last year, she did not even hesitate with an answer.

          “A Bow Tie,” she announced proudly.

          I visualized an elastic and paper doily all bunched up.  

          “What kind of a bow tie?” I asked.

  “A Black one.”  And so it was.  We purchased a black bow tie for Roland – the only black bow tie that we found.

          I was reminded about gifts – precious to the child’s mind, but very impractical.  For instance my wanting to buy my dad a pink Batman shirt for a gift.  I don’t remember it, but my mom said that it happened.

          First off you need to understand that my dad was very conservative.  At that time he would never wear a t-shirt out in public nor would he ever wear the color pink. There are several family photos in which dad wears a crew cut and a blue-green-gold patterned sports jacket – the same sports coat in every photo.  Well, not every photo.  But anyone who saw him in a family photo could tell right away that he was not the pink Batman shirt type.

          My mom steered my brother and I in a different direction to pick out a gift that was much more practical – and then wondered why he didn’t do the same whenever we would go shopping to buy a gift for her.

          Plastic flowers.  I saw the most gorgeous plastic flowers – the entire arrangement was just so pretty and unique – I thought.  Imagine flowers cascading in a long arrangement.  Why it could fit nicely on a door! 

          Actually I didn’t know what it was for. Obviously I had no sense of what the display was really used for.  I remember my maternal grandma letting out a laugh and then covering her mouth as mom unwrapped her beautiful funeral spray. 

Had I known what it was for I don’t think I would have picked it out.  But then again, maybe daddy did tell me and it just hadn’t sunk in – even though I had been to many funerals before.  Even though I had probably seen them on caskets, I obviously hadn’t really paid much attention.  I saw it as something to be displayed – and appreciated.

          I remember mom had arranged the flowers in a bowl – but in order to make them fit properly, she had to cut off the ends.  I was crushed.  She wanted to show appreciation for our thoughtfulness without offending me.  But she did.  I mean, the bowl she had chosen looked nice and everything – but the beauty just wasn’t complete anymore.  But now I do understand why she did it. 

          Jenna beamed as Roland opened his gift.  He gave her an enthusiastic “Thank you” and put his bow tie on before we finished unwrapping gifts.  He wore it to Church which pleased Jenna quite a bit. 

          We were unable to find it so that he could wear it to the Christmas dinner this year.  But Jenna hasn’t said anything since 2011.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gift Cards or Gift Giving

Anyone who knows me knows that gift cards ( for the most part) say, “I don’t care enough to be creative or to know you well enough to know what you really want.”  Anybody who truly knows me knows I loathe shopping.  I would rather have a useless gift that comes from the heart than a gift card.

I am probably in the minority as not everybody feels that way. I know my sister-in-law would much rather have the gift card than an item that she’s just going to exchange anyway.  At least two of my boys love receiving gift cards and being able to get what they want (with pants and shoes it’s just as well; they can’t just be purchased as they have to be fitted to their bodies)

For a while I refused to buy gift cards.  What does that say about me.  Giving someone a gift that I would never want for myself.  And yet how often do we buy or make things for people that we would never purchase or make for ourselves?

  Sending a gift card to a newlywed couple in another state is more convenient than putting a care package together.  And even though there is often joy at the receiving end of the package, will the contents really work for their wants or needs?

Gift cards at a shower or reception for newlyweds actually seems more acceptable for me than as a Christmas gift – as the couple may really be in need of something more practical than the nine toasters that made it to the gift table. 

Gift cards also make great stocking stuffers for the fuss budgets who are hard to shop for and don’t mind shopping on their own.  Jenna feels quite grown up when she has an opportunity to use a gift card.  They are convenient for both the giver and the receiver.  But still, not everybody appreciates them. 
          I like surprises.  I always have.  There for a while when mom would ask me what I wanted for Christmas I would always answer, “To be surprised.” And I rarely was.  My sister-in-law asked the same question last year after we had drawn names.  I think Sunny is creative enough to come up with something on her own – which she did – as she didn’t go for any of my suggestions.  And that really made me like it all the more.

          I could never find the right words to express what I was feeling though until one day when Roland had returned home from the work Christmas party with a note from his boss which included the words I was feeling.  And so I quote a part of that letter because I agree.

          “Selecting the right gift takes time and thought.  In the words of one “expert” on gift-giving, ‘The art of giving a gift is that it must come from your genuine desire to acknowledge the kindness and value this person has shown you throughout the year. 

“‘A gift should be about honoring something you share and value with this person.  When you don’t know someone well and can’t really know what they would like, then you should give them something you, yourself, like.’ She suggests sharing one of your own values with them.”
          After reading that, I thought, “Wow.  That is exactly what I want to say.” Well, perhaps not exactly, but close enough.  The words convey how I feel.

          As it turned out, though the gift was one that was truly a part of the boss’ character, it really wasn’t something that nearly anyone in the office would purchase for his or herself.  However Roland could totally see Biff being thrilled with the item, and as we never know what to get Biff anyway, the office gift became a recycled gift for Biff.  And he loves it and is getting way more use out of it than we ever could.

My youngest boy is into recycling his gifts.  Perhaps we’re all guilty of that.  There is usually not so much thought put into recycled gifts other than getting rid of it and convenient self from having to go shopping or creating or whatever.  But I still think I’d rather receive a recycled gift than a gift card.  If I don’t like it, I can always recycle it next year.

We receive gift cards from Roland’s family.  Understandable.  They live in another state.  One sister in my ward gives out gift cards to her 30 grandkids and great grandkids.  Also understandable.  How does one find the time for personalizing that many gifts  - especially with her given health?

I do like the idea of still being able to personalize many gift cards as so many places will give a variety of choices on what your gift card looks like.

          So there you have it.  For what it’s worth, this is my opinion: People are different.  We need to focus on the people and not so much on the gifts.