In the Purple

A text from my sister asked me what childhood memory I have of Christmas. I remember receiving a bright, deep purple bedspread that resembled shag carpet of the 1970s. Two-inch long shag. Sounds awful doesn’t it? Well, it was.

I shared a room with this very sister and therefore, we had a bed each, meaning she also received an identical gift and we had not one, but two of these imperial purple beauties gracing our small abode.

Our family of seven lived in an old farmhouse in the state of Washington, built before wall-to-wall carpet was a thing. In other words, the place had old linoleum flooring. So, maybe the bedspreads were a form of compensation for lack of carpet.

That Christmas morning, we five kids sat giddily around the tree, unwrapping gifts.

When unwrapping the soft package, I noticed first, the purple. I like purple, not lavender or violet, to fluffy, but dazzling bold purple, so this gift was looking pretty good, until I finished unwrapping and stared at the hunk of shag material. “It’s a bedspread,” said Mom.

Mom was perceptive. I’m sure she heard me think, “What is this?” I’m sure she also knew my verbal, “Thank you, Mom and Dad,” was strained. But that could be because we all knew, every gift was purchased by Mom from the Montgomery Ward catalog. Dad did not shop unless it was for a potato harvester or pipeline.

I sweat under the heavy coverlet. But sweating under shag aside, this gift, I attribute to my present day attitude toward gift giving. Super nonchalant.

The attitude started as “helpful hints.” I’d tell Mom what I wanted. She abided and even made it easier by asking me to mark, a month before Christmas, no next-day delivery back then, my druthers on the Montgomery catalog pages.

After getting married, my attitude took a necessary diversion. It believed that I enjoyed the first year of selecting gifts for in-laws who I so badly wanted to be a part of. But, Christmas Eve, when the in-laws gathered, I could tell, the blouse I got my sister-in-law wasn’t what she liked, therefore the next year, I simply wrapped the gifts I choose along with the sales receipt, for easier returns.

The in-laws abided by doing the same. But “returning” items irked me. So, my attitude shifted to a protest. Hopefully, I said it kindly, but I said, “I don’t want to draw names anymore, thank you.”

At first, the in-law family was a bit curious as to my request.

Which by the way, my request wasn’t reversed by my husband, who himself has zero patience for shopping expeditions of any type. He did not offer to shop for his family.

But after a few Christmas gatherings, and the in-laws watching me nonchalantly, smugly, sitting in a chair eating Norwegian Lefse, not opening ridiculous gifts, low and behold, gift giving plunged in the important factor.

Did we notice? Not really, because my ever-growing family knows the best gifts are singing carols, saying grace with one another, and laughing until the cows go home.

Merry Christmas, everyone.


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