Christmas 2006 was unusually simple for us. We didn’t travel until the week after Christmas and no one came to visit us—so it was just the four of us at home on Christmas Day. We don’t do extravagant Christmases. Usually we get the boys one or two presents—things they have asked for or indicated that they would like. This Christmas was no different in that respect.
When I started thinking about what to get Julian, the list of “wants” was pretty short. He’s never been hard to buy for and I know what he likes pretty well. I knew that his Nashville Fire shirt—one of his most prized possessions—was showing how much it had been worn and was needing to be replaced. Replacing a NFD shirt is not an easy task. For security reasons, NFD doesn’t sell their shirts to the general public, as they once did. To get one, you have to be a fire fighter or know one who is willing to get one for you. Unfortunately, we don’t know any fire fighters that well. Late in the fall, we had several conversations about the ragged t-shirt and what we should do with it. Obviously, throwing it out just wasn’t an acceptable option for Julian. I told him it was going to be very difficult to replace it and while I tried to explain why, I don’t really think he understood the reasons.
I knew it was a long shot, but I wasn’t giving up. In September, I started checking eBay for NFD shirts and near the end of October, I had managed to bid on one and win it. It wasn’t cheap but I knew how much a new NFD shirt would mean to Julian. When it arrived in the mailbox, I was so thrilled that it was very difficult to keep it from him until Christmas. I knew he was going to be so excited to have a crisp new blue NFD shirt.
On Christmas Day, we took our time having breakfast and then sat around the tree to open our presents. I had wrapped Julian’s new shirt with great care in a really small box so he would have no idea what was inside. He opened the box enthusiastically, as any ten year old would do on Christmas morning. He pulled the folded blue mass from the box and at first; he didn’t realize exactly what it was. Then it kindof unfurled itself in his hands and a huge smile spread across his face. He gasped and then he clutched it to his chest and said with great clarity:
“Moma, you remembered me.”
It was one of those moments that made this unusually quiet and simple Christmas absolutely perfect for me. We hugged and went on with the festivities of the day, but that little phrase – “you remembered me” stuck with me. Sometimes it’s hard to be the parent of a ten year old son who doesn’t always comprehend and understand the world around him. Those moments of clarity—little glimpses into his understanding and little reassurances that there are some things he does really deeply “get” are the moments I treasure more than any other. This was one of those moments. It was clear in his voice. He understood the meaning of giving a Christmas gift and he understood the measure of love that it had been given with.
That was all the Christmas present I needed.