It’s that time of year again!  All the typical signs that Christmas is fast approaching are everywhere… the weather has turned colder, my mailbox is jam packed with flyers, and I saw an elf dressed in green and red walking through the mall this weekend (on break from helping Santa with picture taking no doubt)! I love this time of the year as everyone starts planning for family and friend gatherings – to spend time with the ones that they love! 

Recently, I went to Buffalo with my sister, nieces and brother-in-law to get a head start on Christmas shopping! I did well and got some great purchases… for myself! 

Unfortunately, no luck on making a dent into Christmas gifts for the family yet.   When it comes to gift giving, each family member makes a wish list to help give ideas! Every year, we would all made lists with the exception of my grandmother, “Poa Poa.” She always said she didn’t want anything and that all she wanted was for us to spend time together. She had her priorities straight, but, of course, we always wanted to buy her something!      

One year, when I was over at Poa Poa’s apartment enjoying a delicious home-cooked Chinese meal, I recall seeing how old and worn her bath towels were. I immediately had the brilliant idea of buying her a new set of towels and was convinced she’d love them!  So I purchased the best set of plush and fluffy towels that I could find.    

On Christmas day, I watched as she carefully unwrapped her gift, waiting to see her reaction.  She pulled out the towels, looked at me and said, in her Chinese accent, “oh… they nice… I don’t need… you take back.”  She packaged them back up and handed them right back to me. It made us all laugh.  That was Poa Poa – a very practical woman! For her, Christmas was a time to spend with family and that’s what mattered most.  

It has been two years since Poa Poa passed away from cancer.  I was always the one in charge of picking her up on Christmas morning to bring her over to my sister’s house to open gifts.  I still miss seeing her waiting for me at the entrance of her apartment building, all dressed in her red sweater and carrying a bag of navel oranges to give to everyone (there was always some sale on oranges at the Chinese store!). Our Christmas family traditions continue now and we all live by Poa Poa’s wise words – to just enjoy the time together as a family!