By Kathy Pomaville Pate
“What do you want for Christmas, Mom?”
I’ve been asked that question oodles of times since September. That's when my four children officially kick-off the Christmas season.
My standard response, “Nothing, I don’t need or want anything.”
Apparently it's the wrong answer. A boring answer. Not the answer they’re hoping for. They persisted. “Seriously, Mom, what can we get you?”
“Nothing. Nothing at all,” I said. "Just your love. Your hugs and kisses."
We bantered back and forth like this several times each week during the fall months. Finally in December, I caved and told them I could use a pair of socks, a new dish towel or something else they can buy at the dollar store.
At last the moment they've been waiting for arrived – Christmas shopping with their dad!
I finished up the breakfast dishes while my husband and children prepared for the big day. There’s a lot of whispering, giggling and scurrying around. Piggy banks are emptied. Dollars are tallied.
“I’m not going,” said 5-year-old, Emily. “I’m staying home.”
“No, you're coming with us,” said my husband, matter-of-factly. We have this unspoken tradition of sorts. He takes all four children Christmas shopping while I enjoy a couple of hours to myself – a gift in and of itself.
Emily looked a little confused. “But I already have Mommy’s gift. Why do I need to go shopping?” Now dad was confused. He didn’t know where she could have gotten a gift for me.
Emily nestled close to my husband’s ear. She cupped her hands around her smiling mouth and said proudly, “Well, I asked Mommy what she wanted for Christmas. She said she wanted a kiss and that’s what I’m giving her! Great idea, huh?”
She was tickled as could be. She planned to give me exactly what I asked for and, better yet, she didn't need anyone's help to make it happen. My husband agreed that her gift was wonderful, but told her to come along anyway – just for the fun of it. She agreed.
Later that day, Emily and I were wrapping the presents she was going to give on Christmas morning. "Uh oh," I said. "We don’t have anything for Daddy, do we?"
"Of course I do," said Emily, grinning from ear to ear. "And it’s already wrapped.”
“It is?” I questioned.
“Yup," she said, pointing to her mouth. "It’s a kiss wrapped in love. I think it’s the best gift of all. Don’t you think Daddy will think so, too?”
“You betcha!” I replied.
Knowing that our little girl was thrilled to give us each such a heartfelt, homemade gift was precious. She wasn't giving us a gift because she had to. She wasn't trying to impress us. She wasn't spending more than she could afford. And her present wouldn't distract from the true gift of Christmas – the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Kathy Pomaville Pate has been married to her best friend, Patrick, for 17 years. They live in Iowa with their four children – Natalie, Jared, Julia and Emily.