Bill and I talk of not spoiling

the children, of returning to purer

days, when gifts were gifts,

when treats were occasions

for celebration. The child-rearing pedants say

that our attention is the greatest gift –

though this is hard to remember

when we approach the holidays,

and the lobbying begins. I seek to define a true gift

by recalling those most treasured in my own

childhood and in my well-stocked adult life,

where overabundance produces its

own bounty-less reward. But then what of the delight

 I find in one of Bill’s beatific smiles, the way

my heart opens like a thirsty man’s hands

when he is offered water?

What to give?

Birthdays approach.

Presents are required.

Guilt encroaches.

Panic ensues.

 In a drugstore on a quick run

for medications, I point

my son to a cheap, plastic Light Saber.

His awed eyes plead, and I muster

allowances not yet given, then

with a flick of my wrist… extend the blade.

Small, shaking hands receive the toy,

and pass it through trembling, joyous air

with a hum of imagined electricity.

“This is awesome,” he whispers,

the emphasis his. I fork over the twelve bucks

and live on sweetest oxygen for days.

©Jessica Minier Mabe