Silk stockings for Christmas

Published 7:00 am Friday, December 25, 2015

Gwen Boudoin was usually a happy, energetic 12 year old, while living in her Memaw’s house in Picayune, Mississippi. In spite of the trauma of losing track of her daddy and being “blown-up” by Hurricane Katrina, she had adapted well to her new circumstances. Her now-returned daddy, mom and older brother had settled in too, considering they had lost everything in the catastrophic event. Not only providing a roof and safety, Genevieve Mayfield, offered sage guidance whenever necessary. Like those in many families, she was the glue which held the family together.
As in all things, time passes and so it was with Genevieve. Generous to a fault, she gave selflessly to others outside of the family, donating her time to the church and several local charities. In her generosity, she often put others ahead of herself and neglected her own health. Such it was on that awful day, when the news came she had been taken to Highland Hospital and had not survived. That day was Christmas Day.
Again, the time passed and the healing of the survivors progressed, with lots of tears and hugs to ease the way. Now, the first year anniversary of the Memaw’s too-soon departure was quickly approaching, as the dark and gloomy days seemed to only enhance the depressive mood. It was especially the mood of young Gwen, whom had been particularly close to her Memaw.
Daddy Joe Boudoin, along with her brother Bill, had put on a good front. Christmas lights were strung on the outside of the house, and a tree was in the parlor. Yet, it wasn’t the same without the Memaw, the tangible force now so clearly absent. Trying to get her daughter in better spirits, Elaine tried everything she knew to break the spell of mourning. Nothing seemed to work.
It was now Christmas Eve, and knowing well there needed to be something to change things, she asked her daughter to join her in the bedroom. Forlornly, the young girl plodded up the stairs and sat down on the edge of the soft bed. Gwen began slowly, “Baby, I know all too well how much you miss your Memaw. While she meant so much to all of us, we can be sure she had a special place in her heart, just for you. And, it is clear you have a very special place in your heart, just for her.”
“I came across something, the other day, which I want you to have. Now, it may seem to be a bit peculiar, but after I explain you should understand.” Quietly picking up the small, square, flat box, tied up with a pink ribbon, she opened it and folded back the tissue paper. Her actions revealed an old pair of silk stockings, carefully folded.
Now curious, Gwen’s mood brightened. Her mother continued, “Darling, you know our family is not wealthy, at least not in the financial sense. As a young woman, your Memaw did not live in the Silk Stockings District of town, but we do know of her wealth in many other ways. Christmas was always so very special to her, and her requests were few. “Just once,” she had exclaimed many years ago, “I would like to have a pair of those silk stockings people talk about, just to feel them on me.” Of course, she got what she wanted, with the family working together to afford them for Christmas Day.
“She only wore them only once or twice, but lovingly gazed upon them often, as they meant so much more that just stockings. To her, they were like a giant hug from those she loved, and now you need to have them. Go ahead and put them on, seeing you are about her size and then put on your red dress.”
Gwen bounded off the bed and soon returned from the bathroom exclaiming as she stood in front of the door mirror, “Gee Momma, you were right, these are just like a giant hug and they look so pretty!” “Well,” said Gwen, “then you are getting a big hug from your Memaw, aren’t you?” With tears streaming down her cheeks and now letting the healing begin, the smiling daughter quietly replied, “Yes, and this is the best Christmas present ever.”
Elaine had learned the greatest gifts are not those which cost great sums of money, but carry the greatest value.
May we be filled with the understanding of the greatest of all gifts, the presence of Christ Jesus, in this Christ-mass, and all our days.

By Fr. Jonathan Filkins

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