This was the year I took my first step on the bridge between believing in Santa and actually being Santa. I was suspicious of fat men and chimneys, but willing to concede belief if it meant presents. I chose nice over naughty, but wasn’t the least bit comfortable with someone seeing me when I was sleeping. Like any typical fifth grader, I thought I had figured out the world; but that didn’t necessarily mean that I was ready to embrace all of its truths.
My grandfather set a roaring fire and the adorable Douglas fir was in its rightful corner. I noticed that the familiar wood paneled room was unusually dim for 4:00 in the afternoon. This was because the perfectly pleated drapes were pulled to cover a very large furniture sized object. I thought that this was odd, but not odd enough to hold my interest. Because then, to my wondering eyes did appear another unusually large box in the opposite corner of the room. My uncle always wrapped his presents in this bright silver cellophane which made this gift look like a piece of the brand new space shuttle. It lured me closer since it was not so well hidden behind my grandfather’s chair.
It was 1980 and this 10-year-old was far too curious. What was the large box wrapped in silver? What was the unusually large item behind drapes? I chose to inch my way closer to the silver box because that one would have a gift tag. After all, I just needed to see if the first letter was “D”. My mind raced with speculation about who this gift was for since my uncle had no children. He only had three nieces and nephews, and as the oldest, I was certain that I would be entitled to receive the biggest gift. I’m certain I was not the least bit slick in my attempt to scope the gift tag.
Suddenly, my mother and grandparents all had their 110 cameras and flash cubes. My mom said, “Gosh, we need some natural light. Dana, why don’t you go open the drapes?”
Oh no!! I was only six feet from the shiny silver box! I didn’t have enough 10-year-old nonchalance to pull this off again! My mother asked me again to open the drapes. Retreating from my mission, I crossed back toward the drapes. My hands pulled on the cord, but my eyes remained fixed on the silver box. The natural light was instantly revealed, but so was something else.
It was a new, gorgeous, honey brown Kimbell piano. Suddenly the silver box meant nothing and I looked to my mom in shock. We both had tears because it was then that I realized that the dream of having a real piano to practice on had finally come true. I realized how much sacrifice it took for my single mother to get this piano for me. My grandparents graciously allowed this piano to be in their home and I made the decision that I would run home every day from now on just so I could play.
It was in that moment that I realized that Christmas was far more about giving than receiving. My mother worked four jobs to get that brand new piano for me. It was her loud-and-clear way of saying “I believe in everything you are.”
But this was more than a piano. This was unconditional love and support, courage, and the opportunity to build my dreams. That piano got me to conservatory, and beyond, and now sits in my home where my children’s hands have played its keys. But the best gift that Christmas belonged to my mother, because her gift was my soul’s authentic expression of immeasurable gratitude and joy in that one perfect moment.
Truly, to receive is to give.
I sincerely wish Fayette Woman readers a most peaceful and loving holiday season.