This past month has been spent discussing gifts for A, B and C: "What are you getting her?" "How much did you spend on him?" The ordering online, receiving of packages in the mail, the lists made to check, the quick bursts of shopping errands, and the random phone calls to talk over gift ideas -- reconfirming or dispelling what one thinks is that perfect item for that certain someone -- are the things that have come to consume these dark days of December. I, however, was lucky enough to evade all of that for a few short days, and right before the heat of the holiday week, with an event that brought it "back to the basics."
A wedding. An exchange of vows -- both traditional and original. Dim lighting. A close-knit group of friends, family, strangers. Tears. Smiles. Laughter. Excitement. Honor. Promise. The marriage took place in Grand Pacific Junction, Olmstead Falls, Ohio. It's a historic town with commercial storefronts dating back to the '20s; the place, David Stearns, the second settler in 1816, described as having "four general stores, two drug stores, one tailor shop, one broom factory, one felloe (wagon wheel) shop, and one lumber yard." And I don't believe too much has changed. The beautiful history of the area, along with the decor of lights for the holiday season, and the group of people gathered for this special occasion made for a night that one can easily imagine Norman Rockwell would have loved to get his hands--or brushes--on.
A candle-lit service ending with the chiming of bells, settles in quiet rejoices. Coats make their way to bare arms and ladies clasp the crooks of gentlemen's arms. A small, huddled mass of cheery guests, and bride and groom--tulle in tow--lead each other in heels and dress shoes through a dusting of snow, down the sidewalk, over the train tracks into the warmth of a cozy restaurant, whose "Comfort food with a twist" description suites it handsomely. Good conversation, great food, wonderful drink, congenial company, loving words and the purest of gestures round the day and evening out. Departing with the exchange of loving wishes and tender hugs, I realize, I have been brought back to "the basics."
I'm returning "home" shortly for the holidays; however, I have yet to wrap a single gift. Instead, I've been making some gifts, with the help of some fabric and buttons, needle, thread and my own two hands. I'll eventual wrap the gifts I bought, but it's the gifts I'm choosing to make that I'm most eager to give. They won't be wrapped. Instead they will adorn the glossy packages -- the ones wrapped to conceal their identity and evoke surprise. Call them decoration, call them a token of my appreciation to the recipient, or see them as a reminder of the simple acts that aren't always so simple as they appear. An act from the heart involves giving some part of yourself to another, which isn't always the easiest thing to initiate or even follow through with, but they are the ones that feel the best to give, and receive. They're the ones that mean the most and the ones that hold us together, as individuals, and together, as friends and family, which are the greatest gifts we have to share this holiday season.