The tree would always display the beauty of the lights, the glass Christmas balls, the Santa Claus face representing the “Spirit of Christmas” buried next to the trunk of the tree, the homemade ornaments our family made together, the ice cycles and generally there was some sort of scene at the bottom of the tree. Marlene had a “nack” to take all of these elements and decorate the tree in a way that was so perfect and beautiful. There has not been a year when we finally turned on the lights to blaze forth and enhance the beauty of the tree, that I don’t just take a minute or two to look at how wonderful she would make it for all of us.
Next were the gifts around the tree. Everyone would always do really well with his or her wrapping but it was Marlene’s that you could pick out every time. …Every single one of her gifts was adorned with the most beautiful handmade bows you could imagine. Her gifts, presented with only the touch that Marlene knew how to do, were ALWAYS the most beautiful and the most genuine under the tree. It was almost a shame to open them every year, as they were just that perfect.
One of our traditions at Christmas each year is to buy for only one family member or sibling. We would limit the amount we could spend to $100 so we would not let the commercial aspect overtake the real meaning of Christmas. The rotation continues so that you do not buy for the same person each year. …On Christmas, and as we would open the gifts we purchased for each other, we would all sit in a circle and watch each person open that special gift from a brother, a sister or Mom and Dad.
The individual receiving the gift, and before they could open their gift, would have to listen to the person that gave them that gift. What they would have to listen to is some memory, some accomplishment or just why the person giving the gift loved the person receiving that gift. It was such a special time for Marlene and myself. We learned how much our kids really loved each other and how many times they did wonderful acts of kindness throughout the year. Many tears of joy have been shed; many warm embraces and many “I love yous” throughout the years on Christmas Day have been witnessed as we have continued this tradition. I am so proud as a Father that my family could show each other such unconditional love.
With all the presents from Santa Claus being hidden in our home, it was difficult for me to find and hide the gifts I had purchased for Marlene. Every time I thought I had found the “secret place” I would find a present from Santa to one of our children. As the years went by, I finally figured the best way to hide my gifts was in my shop and then on Christmas day send her on a treasure hunt to find them in many different locations.
These “treasure hunts” over the years have yielded a variety of things that were dear to her but one of her favorite gifts she received from me was a simple set of 8x30 binoculars I bought at Cabelas so she could watch “her birds. “ Marlene loved birds and the many colors they displayed. If there was a bird that landed in our yard that she didn’t know, she would immediately go to her special drawer that contained her bird book and her binoculars so she could quickly identify which species it was. She would even call me on my cell phone with the excitement of a child to tell me about this new bird she had discovered. I would remind her and of course try and tease her a bit when I would say, “Now Honey, remember that the most beautiful birds are all male due to their vivid colors.”
Her reply…”Well, certainly this is not the case with humans. …Think about Adam and Eve. God had to make a ROUGH DRAFT first and then he created woman with all the beauty and love displayed like a mother bird tending to her family!”
I always laughed when we were still here together having these wonderful conversations but she was totally right…Mankind would be lost without women. Their wonderful love, kindness, forever forgiving, forever caring attitudes that makes the world a better place just like my Marlene did for us on several occasions including Christmas.
So from this “Rough Draft” to you, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2014!