“I need to buy Christmas presents for Alice and Peter today!” thought Lily, as she drove home from work. On the way, she stopped at the mall and bought expensive gifts for her children.
Lily bought the gifts two weeks before Christmas because she knew she wouldn’t have time later. Her job kept her busy and she returned home every day after dinner. She rarely got to see her children during the weekdays.
Being a mother, she always wanted to be close to her children, but prioritized her work because she thought earning money was more important than spending time together.
“After all, I can buy expensive gifts for my children with my hard-earned money,” she thought.
Lily hid the gifts in her closet and thought about giving them to her children one day before Christmas, since she would have to fly to another city the next day for a business meeting.
However, a day later, Lily learned that her meeting was cancelled.
“Yay! I get to spend Christmas with you all this year!” she told her children and husband.
“That’s awesome, Mom!” exclaimed Alice and hugged her mother.
“Why don’t we have a Christmas party this year? What do you say, honey?” asked Lily to her husband.
After her husband agreed to host a party, Lily sent invitations to all her friends and her husband’s father, Michael. When she shared the guest list with her children, they were delighted to see their grandfather’s name.
The children longed to see their grandfather, but Lily deliberately kept them away from him. She thought her children should only interact with wealthy and sophisticated people, and Michael was not one of them. The old man lived in a mobile home in a field outside of town.
I hope he doesn’t show up, Lily thought. She didn’t want to invite Michael, but she did it for her husband. She thought her friends would make fun of her if they found out her father-in-law was so poor.
Later that day, Lily gave her children the gifts she had bought them. To her surprise, none of her children were interested in opening the gifts.
“I’ll keep them in your closet. You can open them later,” she told them.
On Christmas Eve, Lily welcomed her friends into her home and asked them to take a seat. However, her smile suddenly faded when she saw Michael walking toward her house.
“Oh no, why is he here?” she thought and turned her eyes away.
“Hi, Lily! It feels so good to see you!” cheered Michael.
“Oh, hi, Michael, how are you?” Lily faked a smile and welcomed him inside.
Then, Lily started talking to her friends when Michael interrupted their conversation and handed a gift to his daughter-in-law.
“This is for you, Lily,” he smiled.
Lily could see her friends covering their mouths, trying to control their laughter. She knew they were teasing Michael for giving her a purse he bought at the supermarket.
Before she could react, Michael called Alice and Peter over and gave them gifts.
“I bought some cookie cutters for my grandchildren!” he said and hugged them.
Once again, Lily felt that her friends were making fun of her, so she stomped over to Michael and said:
“We don’t need these cheap items you bought at the grocery store, Michael! Or did you buy them at a thrift store?”.
Michael looked around the room and smiled at Lily.
“Don’t worry. All these gifts are brand new,” he said.
“Whatever! We really don’t need these useless gifts!”. Lily shrugged. “You think my kids are going to play with cookie cutters, for God’s sake, Michael!”.
“Alice and Peter! Show Grandpa what I got for you!” she said to her children.
His children nodded and looked at the gifts on the dining room table.
“You know I got you guys the latest gaming console!” boasted Lily, doing her best to impress her friends and make Michael feel bad.
To some extent, she had succeeded in her mission because Michael had started walking towards the exit.
“I guess I should be going,” he thought.
At that moment, Alice and Peter ran to their grandfather and hugged him.
“Let’s play some games, Grandpa!” they cheered and took him back to the living room.
Then, the children unpacked the cookie cutters and asked their grandfather to bake cookies with them.
“We’ve even got the cookie mix, Grandpa! It’s going to be fun,” they insisted.
However, when Lily found out that her children were baking cookies with Michael, she immediately called them out of the kitchen.
“Come on, kids – it’s time to open your presents!” she said, but no one responded.
Then Lily went into the kitchen and asked Alice and Peter to have dinner with their friends and open presents, but they refused.
“Mom! We don’t want your expensive presents!” cried Alice.
“Yes, Mom! Look, we’re enjoying baking cookies with Grandpa,” Peter added, and the children turned away from their mother and continued to stare into the oven.
Feeling hopeless, Lily left the kitchen and sat down at the table. Meanwhile, her friends entered the kitchen after the aroma of freshly baked cookies wafted through the air.
“These cookies smell so delicious! Can we try some?” a friend of Lily’s asked Michael.
“Sure you can!” she chuckled and handed a tray of cookies to the guests.
As Lily’s guests ate the delicious cookies, she looked at their gifts and felt sad that her children didn’t want to open them.
“Lily, your father-in-law is an excellent baker – why didn’t you ever tell us about him?” one of her friends asked.
“Yes, these cookies remind me of my childhood – I loved baking dough with my grandmother!” added another friend.
Suddenly, Michael came out of the kitchen and sat down in a chair next to Lily.
“Why don’t you join us, Lily?” he asked.
“I don’t want to be a part of your baking activity, Michael. Leave me alone,” Lily complained.
“Come on,” Michael smiled, “You know your kids have nothing on you. They didn’t open your presents because they wanted your attention, Lily. All kids are like that.”
“They don’t care how much money you make monthly or what gadgets you buy them. All they want is your time and attention, and that’s what they got from me today,” Michael added.
Lily couldn’t help but agree with what Michael said.
“I thought they would like my presents, but…,” she shook her head.
“They’re waiting for you in the kitchen,” Michael held out his hand. “Come on. We have to bake another batch of cookies for your guests!”
Eventually, Lily agreed to bake cookies with her father-in-law and children. Later that night, their friends confessed that they had had the best Christmas party and asked Lily to host another party where they would only bake cookies with Michael.