All of a sudden the tree began shedding its needles and the room was becoming messy. No more visitors, cookies or music. Time to rearrange the room again.
The holidays have come and gone and I am back in my favorite chair in its sunny spot holding the pile of greeting cards I received. I feel sad thinking that we only hear from many of the people whose hand writing and pictures I now see only once a year.
Why cant we give each other the gift of our time all year long?
I think back on my life and I received many beautiful wrapped gifts for sure but can hardly remember what was inside them anymore. Ask me a memory about my Aunt Hilda however and I can go on for hours.
With her huge smile she welcomed unexpected guests with warmth all year long. She lived alone but was never lonely for her phone was constantly ringing and when she was not talking she would be writing notes to friends. The cast of the Home Shopping Club were like her family as she listened to it all day long while doing chores in her kitchen. She was always on the lookout for a special deal to share. I cannot tell you how many surprise boxes of dried fruit, nuts and caramel apples were delivered to my door for no reason at all. Those are gifts I do remember and at the time probably did not appreciate but now that I am older I smile.
She refused to rearrange her entire living room to make it merry and bright like I do. She did not have to. The month of December she placed a table top tree on the cedar chest that lived in front of her window all year long. When you peeked in from outside it looked like it was six feet tall but you were not disappointed upon entering the home because she was the light in the room. She didn't cram love into a few weeks but gave it all year long.
She passed away three days after Easter Sunday in 2006 but that holiday was the gift of time that was the most precious to me. We did not care about wrapped boxes but enjoyed a day of laughter and fun. She was selfless and despite days of feeling low she was always doing something for someone else. I cannot believe how she even tried her best to make dying easier for us.
Three weeks before she passed away we bought her a dog not knowing the leukemia in her body would take her so soon. Kevin and I inherited that precious dog she named Princess. Princess is now 13 with an inoperable tumor on her left paw and we don't know how fast it will grow. I know our days are getting numbered and each day is another gift of time together.
I don't think I ever truly dealt with saying good-bye to my beautiful Aunt especially since I have this precious dog she left behind. We thought we were giving her a gift but it turned out I received the greatest gift instead. That is the funny thing about a good deed I suppose; it helps you more than the person for which it was intended in so many ways. I try not to think of saying good-bye to Princess yet for I don't want to waste a minute being sad. Like that Easter Sunday we knew it was going to happen but we did not discuss it but enjoyed our time.
I turn 60 this year and realistically know that my days of giving gifts of my time are getting numbered. I hope I will be given the gift of welcoming another twinkling visitor into my living room next December but maybe it does not have to be six foot but one that will fit into the corner so the chair can stay where it belongs.
Can you imagine being gone 13 years and having someone you loved talk about you as if you were here just yesterday? That certainly is a life well lived and I am incredibly lucky to have witnessed it.
As I reach 60 I am understanding how exhausted life has been rearranging things for the perfect package when it is the celebration that matters. My Aunt showed up every day and celebrated 365 events. I have work to do but I am going to try my best to make days eventful like she did.
One thing I am going to promise is I will be keeping in better touch with all these faces and notes I hold in my hand today. I look forward to chats, writing notes, playing music, cooking, baking and lots of photo taking too. Watch out for you never know if there will be a surprise box outside your door too.
With my chair back by my sunny window I realize I did not have to deal with my Aunt dying because she will forever live inside of me which is probably why I am not sad. She gave me the greatest present I could ever ask for and that will never go away. The most precious packages definitely are the gifts of time.