The Perfect Gift

by Debbie Twomey on December 18, 2013

Mom Santa 1


Do you struggle with what to give as Christmas presents? Sometimes it is the simplest thought or action that is the most perfect gift but you may not have known it at the time.

 I shared with you my Mother’s last day with us and now I would like to share what I think was her best day. We lost our Mom on December 15, 2002. We buried her on the 19th and then had to try and celebrate Christmas without her. None of us wanted to but she had all our gifts ready and so we honored her memory in the best way we could—-Christmas day 2002 was bittersweet.

Christmas was always my Moms favorite day of the year. I never ever remember her signing any of our gifts with anything other than Santa. I saved the tags from that last Christmas as well as one of her gifts—fully wrapped. She would take such pains to choose the perfect wrapping paper that the year before she passed I decided I wanted to have one of her well-wrapped gifts under my tree every year. How funny that I should choose to do that the very last year she was ever with us on Christmas day. The gift, a quilt rack, still remains in its original wrapping—Dreamsicles– and every year I place it under my tree. My very own personal Santa is always with me.

Now let me tell you about one of the best Christmases ever. It was 1981 and 4 of the 7 kids lived in Michigan. My sister Nan and I lived close to one another and my brothers Kevin and Butch lived about an hour away. Only Butch could afford to go home that Christmas so my Mom had to mail out gifts for all of us including Nan’s 2 kids, Christy and Marko. Kevin and I were single then.

At the last minute my brother Butch offered one of his cars and the 3 of us pooled our money for gas to go home to New York and surprise Mom. We knew she was sad that we all could not be together for the holiday so this was the Perfect Gift to give her. We made arrangements for places to stay. Kevin stayed with my brother Keith and Nan and I and the kids would stay with my sister Karen.

Our trip home was a bit hairy, gas was more than we anticipated and we ran into car trouble in Canada. But God was with us and we got into town 2 days before Christmas. It was all very hush hush so we could surprise Mommy.

Things do not all go as we plan, especially surprises. As fate would have it Keith and Kevin were doing last minute shopping in Kmart and who should they run into? You guessed it—Mommy. She was so excited to see Kevin and he had to do some fast talking to keep the secret that Nan and I were in town. Luckily Mom did not drive by Karen’s and see the car so our secret was safe.

Mind you, all our Christmas gifts from Mom are en route to Michigan but you know for all of us the best gift we could have had was to be together. We really loved to spend time that way—eating, laughing, playing games and telling stories of days gone by. We had out differences and yes, we had some drama when we got together but most of the time, there was no other place on Earth we would rather be than together at my parent’s house at 134 Curtis Place.

We all knew this was so important to Mom. We had a rough times growing up and it wasn’t till we all became adults that we really pulled closer. I always tell people the most amazing realization was that our mother grew up right along with us. She was very young when she had all of us and that was not always easy on any of us.

I was very proud of how much she changed and especially loved how excited she would get at Christmas. I had only missed one Christmas with my Mom and was not about to miss another. Little did Mom know we were all going to be together that year.

We open our gifts on Christmas Eve. It was a tradition begun I think when my Dad worked nights at the prison and we just continued it from then on. We usually had both sets of Grandparents over too and would have dinner and then open gifts. I really cannot remember but I think my grandparents did not come that year until Christmas Day (I only know this because of the picture).

As I think back I wonder how we did all this. There were no presents under the tree for us or the 2 kids and dinner was already prepared so how did we do it? A million dollars says there was plenty of food and no one, not even the kids noticed the lack of gifts because Mom probably had something she could throw under the tree the last minute for them. (I can just see her running upstairs to her stash and wrapping what she could so everyone would have something under the tree from our ‘Santa’).

Nan and I got to the house about 6:30 and it was lightly snowing. My Mom heard something and was already headed to the door when we arrived and I can still see her face in the door window. The surprise, the happiness and the love—I see it so clearly that I am crying as I write this. Whatever efforts we made to get there that night were worth everything just to see her face. I wished I had had a camera to capture the moment but it is engraved in my mind and across my heart forever.

Of course the first thing she had to say was there were no gifts. As if that mattered at that moment! We were all together and that was what counted. She was so happy to have all 7 of her kids and 4 grandchildren together under her roof. No other gift could have meant more to any of us.

We celebrated and played our games, Shangri-La, Pictionary and many more. We had dinner and some of her famous honey cookies and even better, the one and only cut outs she made that were fat and iced with her lemon flavored frosting. No one ever made them like my Mom.  Keith and Mom at Christmas at Curtis Place





I also remember she made all the girls flannel nightgowns (but ours were waiting for us back in Michigan) that year and it would have made such a great photo for us all to be dressed the same as we used to as children (when we hated it!!!). Even the littlest boys got hand-made robes and PJs.  My Mom was a master seamstress as well as the greatest knitter you ever saw.

*here is a little side note: My mother had crocheted an heirloom quilt that she kept on her couch. I remember admiring it and saying (as only I could in that rude way) “I think this should go to the oldest daughter” yep that would be me– as if that would stop any arguments in the future. Let me tell you how sneaky and clever my Mom/Santa is—she made 7 more of those quilts and we all got one the next Christmas. She worked her fingers to the bone and took care of that potential problem once and for all.




The Christmas of 1981 was one of the most memorable ones in our lives and I like to believe my Mother’s absolute best Christmas. That was the year we all became “Santas” and gave her the most priceless gift we could, the perfect gift—our family together, happy, healthy, and full of love.

Our first Christmas in our new house, on Curtis Place 2 1965




"I have dedicated my life to the care and welfare of children. I feel privileged to share what I have learned with you. I am also committed to continuously learning.iStock_000004213744XSmall  I will keep informed of the latest information in parenting children from newborns to teens and pass it on to all of you.”   I will also use that same passion to help you create a dynasty generate increases in your business with straightforward and specialized media managing skills that guarantee your connection and scope will grow. Keep up to date reading our posts and discover valuable insights that can make parenting and succeeding in the business of the blogger– the most exciting adventure. (Debbie Twomey)








{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori December 19, 2013 at 6:31 am

Wow, Deb.  That was a great memory.  Thanks for sharing.  Seven kids in your family, I can't imagine.  It is only me and my sister.


Emma December 22, 2013 at 12:16 am

This is such a great story!!  And a great moral too- one that is becoming less and less important to lots of families. 


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: