The Christmas Gifts I'll Never Forget
My father is a carpenter. When my sister Sarah and I were little, and business was slowing down for the winter, he’d start work on our wooden Christmas gifts. These would usually take weeks of preparation, during which the basement was strictly off-limits to our curious, prying eyes. We never knew what he was doing, though he’d spend most evenings down there after we’d gone to bed, often with the help of two little elves that Santa Claus sent down from the North Pole to give him a hand and whose antics he’d recount the next morning. This delighted us to no end – the painfully wonderful anticipation of an exquisite handmade Christmas gift and the thought of real elves working in our home. Christmas morning rolled around, usually after a night of terrible sleep that found me rigid with fear in my bed, listening for any sound that might give away Santa’s presence. Once I thought I saw his sleigh fly across the dark sky and my thumping heart kept me awake for hours. We’d race downstairs to discover what Dad had been working on for so long, and it never failed to thrill us.
Over the years we received a large dollhouse for our collection of Playmobil, complete with wallpapered walls and mini electric lights, and an accompanying barn with horse stalls and a hayloft. Sarah once got an ornate marble roll, with spinning wheels, funnels, chimes, and catapults. I got a cherry wood box, filled with craft supplies. Best of all were our desks, with double doors that swung open to reveal storage bins on the sides, a chalkboard that folded down to make a writing surface, and cubby holes for all our papers and markers. I also loved my post office, complete with mailboxes, personalized ink stamps, and a little wooden grill through which to conduct my postal business. Slightly disappointing was the year we got three beautiful tables made of birds-eye maple on which to place the dollhouse, post office, and barn, as well as curtains for our bedroom, but they certainly came in useful later on!
As we got older and Dad’s business grew, he had less time to make our gifts and eventually stopped doing it altogether. Though my parents continued to buy us lovely, thoughtful presents, it’s the wooden ones from my childhood that I’ll never forget. Those are the ones I still have and am waiting to pass on to my own children once they’re old enough. The wooden gifts are timeless and represent an act of love that no store-bought gift can ever rival.
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