Three gifts should suffice

Published 12:06 am Sunday, December 11, 2011

By Gillian Pollock

My son has always been a help to me when it comes to holiday gift giving. He is my pragmatic, logical child.

From before he could write his Christmas list to Santa, it was composed in his head and recited to me or his dad — prior to the first week in October — each and every year. He is a planner and believes that Santa is as well; so, he wants to make sure when Santa’s list is marked and checked twice, he is on it.

Now while he is planning and scheming, he worries that he hasn’t been good enough to warrant a “good-list” marking from Santa. My son hems and haws and pares down his desires just on the off chance he might have made the naughty list. He doesn’t want to be disappointed, and he doesn’t want to seem gluttonous, so he doesn’t ask for too much. He has always been like this, which really amazes me.

The other day on the way to school with several children in the car, not all of them were mine, the conversation got to Christmas and Santa. How much would Santa be bringing, what had they asked for and what were they expecting were just some of the questions flying around the car. The two girls, one of whom belongs to me, had lists as long as their arms. They were weighing in on which baby dolls would find their way down the chimney this year and which accessories would be in tow. My son was shifting and huffing in his seat and visibly agitated; the girls drive him crazy every day, so I didn’t pay him much mind.

And then, while stopped at a red light, it happened. Glowering, his brow furrowed and with the deepest of voices, my son whipped around in his seat and bellowed at the girls.

“Look! Don’t you get it?” he said. “There were three wise men, and they brought three presents to baby Jesus. Three! Get it? Only three! So, stop thinking you are getting any more than that from Santa ’cause it’s only three!”

He then huffed and turned back around in his seat. He looked at me and said, “Girls! Mama, I just don’t get them at all! Thank the Lord you aren’t one of them!”

It was all I could do to hold a straight face and not burst out laughing. However, my chest was bursting with pride.

I had never shared this idea of three gifts with my son. I know other families do this, but I had never really thought about it. We had talked about the wise men on numerous occasions, but I never purposefully made that connection for him.

So, I asked, “And where did you get that idea from?”

He looked at me and said, “Common sense, Mama.”

All I could think of was how proud I am to be my son’s mother.

And so, I have packaged my more-than-three-gifts-per-child into like items. I now have but three packages for each child to open, one for each wise man. Next year I will try to keep it to just the three items, but, seriously, who ever said there was only one piece of gold, frankincense or myrrh in those boxes given so many years ago?

There is a reason for the season, and it isn’t capitalism. It’s another word that starts with a “C” — Christ.

 A Yankee with a Southern soul, Gillian Pollock is a wife, mother of two ever-challenging children and director of Christian Formation at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.