Friday, December 23, 2011

Give of Yourself by Althea Jenkins

from the Southern Beauty Shop mysteries by Lila Dare

I almost called this post "Give of Yourself during the Holidays," but then I realized we should be giving of ourselves year round, so I changed the title.

If I were a man, people would be calling me a curmudgeon now that I've started on my seventh decade. If it's curmudgeonly to think that people have become way too materialistic, especially around the holidays, then you're darn tootin' I'm a curmudgeon. Why, Stella's daughter and husband gave her a list to shop from during the holidays, complete with model numbers, sizes and preferred colors. Rachel says her folks are putting money in her college fund. When I was growing up, what Santa left under the tree was always a surprise, even though me and my sisters might have dropped a few hints.

I've mixed up a special moisturizer, just for by best friend Violetta, that's scented with violets because they're her favorites. I hope she likes it, but if she doesn't it, I won't know because she'll appreciate the effort I put into it and thank me for that. Maybe that's why we've been best friends for more than forty years.

As I've aged, I've come to think that gift giving is more about how you receive the gift than what it is. I still cringe when I think back to my first Christmas with William, before that murderous Beau Landry had him done away with, when he gave me a gift set of perfume and powder that weren't my scent. I let my disappointment show. At the time, I figured a husband ought to know what scent his wife wears, and I was angry with William for not "knowing" me. I learned later that we can't count on anyone--husbands, friends, children--noticing that kind of thing and it doesn't mean diddly squat about how much they love us. If I still had my William, and he gave me a new scent, I'd ditch my old stuff and wear what he gave me, even if it smelled like a skunk in heat. Because it's about the love in the gift, not the gift itself.

One of the things that makes me happiest is seeing women wearing the little bracelets or necklaces their kids made for them in their kindergarten classes. Tacky plastic beads or chunky charms strung on a piece of crooked wire. I can just imagine how happy is made little Ella Sue or Lonnie to see Mommy wearing the jewelry they made for her. Even thought it might clash with her outfit, and it isn't all la-di-dah, those gifts become a woman better than anything from Kay Jewelers or Jared.

Well, I've yammered on long enough and I know y'all have got places to be and things to do to get ready for Christmas. I wouldn't presume to tell you how to behave--that would be right pushy of me--but I will say that I plan to accept every gift I get this year with thanks and enthusiasm, to wear it, display it, or use it, no matter if it's my size, my color or my taste, because the real gift is having people in your life who love you enough to spend time and money and energy on making you something or buying you something. And I'm grateful for that every minute of every day, holiday or not.

Die Job, the third Southern Beauty Shop mystery, goes on sale Jan 3!


  1. Thanks for the reminder about receiving, Althea!

  2. I love the note about the plastic bead bracelets! My husband's neice is always making those bracelets and necklaces for my toddlers, and even though they look funny (I have boys!) my kids wear them with pride :) It's definitely better than anything she could've bought.

  3. Wonderful sentiments, Althea. I'd say you've found the true meaning of Christmas.

  4. Thanks, all. I'm off to make some of my special eggnog for Vi's Christmas Eve party tomorrow. It's got quite a kick.