My siblings and I get together at my mom's on Christmas Eve and then after, I always bring Mom home with me.
I love Christmas morning at my home. It's always the same - sweet and simple. The children awaken early (too early) and finally, somewhere around 6 a.m., I manage to be coaxed out of bed (to the smell of coffee) to start the gift-opening rituals.
But Christmas is more than presents at our home. There is so much love and laughter, that one can't help but smile and feel good. After the presents, I always make a big breakfast and then the children settle in to enjoy their gifts while I read (I always get a book) or watch a movie - and we just relax.
I don't go anywhere special - we don't do anything out of the ordinary - it's just a sweet and simple day. My children each received a gift that they really loved and seeing them so happy was enough to make my Christmas special.
But this year, my mom received a special gift. She loved it so much that I wanted to share the story with you.
Every year, my brothers and sisters (there are 10 of us) wonder what to give her, but if they would only listen to her - they would know.
First - my mom is elderly - in her 80s. She grew up in Southern California and often told my daughters stories about the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano (where she lived as a little girl) every year on March 19. I heard my daughters asking her questions and she got misty-eyed and mentioned she had not seen the swallows since she was 12 years old. I knew instantly what I would get her.
I bought her a nice children's picture book - a story about the Swallows of San Juan Capistrano. As she opened her gift, my daughters played "When the Swallows come back" (Gene Autry) and my mom looked at me and then at the book - strangely -- until an envelope fell out. Inside the envelope, I placed a brochure from San Juan Capistrano's chamber of commerce and a copy for hotel accomodations on March 18-20; and a certificate saying that I would take her to San Juan Capistrano to see the Swallows return.
She cried and hugged me. Nothing else mattered at that moment.
To my mom - who has everything - this was the perfect gift.