Aunts, Uncles and Christmas Memories

For some reason, I woke up this morning thinking about my uncle Hugh. He was much much younger than his sister, my mom, so probably not really all that much older than myself, but he seemed fully gown up in my eyes. He taught me how to ride a bike, convinced me that I wouldn’t die if I ate just one bite of his famous shrimp salad, and he was a fun babysitter, who viewed rules more as guidleines. He had a favorite song that to this day makes me smile when I hear it, just because of how excited I remember him being to share it with his big sister.

Today, I was thinking about a Christmas at my grandparents house when I was maybe five or six. For some reason I had decided to give my aunt a book. I started to place it under the tree when he stopped me. I couldn’t give her the present like that. The way it was wrapped instantly gave away what was in it. Christmas presents are about surprises. So he took me down to Grandpa’s garden and picked out a large-ish stone. He placed it on top of the book to give it weight and then pulled the wrapping paper up under it to points, giving the whole thing the look of a wrapped gift basket. I happily held the ends of the paper together while he tied them off with ribbon, then he showed me how to fluff the corners to make it pretty. When Grandpa handed the newly wrapped gift to my aunt later in the day, Hugh and I giggled conspiratorially. She held the package for a moment and then said, “Is this a book?”

They are all gone now, my grandparents, parents, and even my aunt and uncle, sadly, all of them far too young, however, that memory lit up my day and is probably one of my favorite childhood memories. Each Christmas I wrap at least one gift that way just to remember that wonderful Christmas Day too many years ago. It never fails to make me smile.

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