As someone with a December birthday, many of my richest memories of holiday gifts are criss-crossed with memories of favorite birthday gifts.
I vividly remember my parents surprising me with an electric guitar one year for my birthday when I was in high school. They supported my small town indie rockstar dreams as I spent afternoons writing and covering songs with my friend Katie, eventually recording an EP we'll generously call our one and only album to date. Maybe someday there will be a R.A.W.K. (our band) reunion show in Pullman.
Another year around that time I was absolutely stoked to get an iPod nano for Christmas. Hundreds of songs on a device that small? Incredible! I spent hours sharing music (an earbud each) with my friend Justina as we traveled the Palouse on yellow school buses to and from our basketball games. Snow Patrol and The Fray formed a mellow soundtrack on those dark winter nights in early high school.
But ask me what was my most memorable Christmas gift? For me, it's really not a single item.
For years, our family tradition was to wake up on Christmas morning, enjoy a lazy breakfast, then roll into the living room to open stockings and presents.
Santa would often buy the family new games and DVDs for us all to enjoy, and throughout the morning it was fun to rip the pretty paper off and see which new movies we'd be enjoying later.
Because that was the best part: spending the entire day in our pajamas, watching movies, munching on candy and filling up on "snack out," which was just cheese, sausage and crackers. Maybe a carrot or piece of broccoli would sneak in there.
If we felt we needed a stretch, we'd move back into the kitchen where one of the new board games would come out for a spin before we settled back onto the couch for the evening.
Having stayed in Washington for college and my career, I've been lucky enough to largely keep that holiday tradition alive with my parents. But now we spend a short time on Christmas morning hopping on Zoom with my little brother, who is married and lives in Kentucky with his wife and mother-in-law. We catch up with them and participate in a secret Santa exchange, enjoying the smiles as we open gifts together virtually.
Of course, it's not really The Lord of the Rings extended edition set, or the transforming Transformers DVD case that stand out in my mind as incredible gifts, though they were. The act of movie watching translated into spending quality, cozy time with my loved ones. And though a few thousand more miles may separate us, we can be thankful that technology still helps us bring a bit of that Christmas cheer to one another no matter where we're celebrating from.♦