I first thought that I had never received a "memorable"present, because I couldn't remember anything like that. I sat a and thought for a while about every Christmas, trying to separate them in my mind. I even dug out a few old diaries to see what I had written. Not a lot it would seem.
Then I remembered.
Mr M and I had met at my cousin's wedding in August. I was divorced with three children and he was young free and single. By September we were looking for somewhere to live because we had asked my children - aged 15, 13 and 12 - what they wanted for Christmas and they said "Somewhere that we can all live together."
We found a house to rent and moved in. The rent was £500 per month so we were struggling. There was no central heating only open fires. We had an ex-ambulance for transport and it did 15 miles to the gallon. Mr M had to drive 20 miles to work and 20 miles home every day. We relied on the fallen trees at my parents home for fuel and we could just afford food.
We asked the children if they wanted a present of a christmas dinner as we couldn't afford both. They chose the turkey dinner because "Dad will bring loads of stuff". He did and then sat outside in his car and ate sandwiches to make us feel guilty. The children ignored this and accepted that he was being his usual self.
My Mother-in-law must have thought hard about what to buy us because on Christmas Eve she had arrived with two 112pound bags of coal. We carefully added a few lumps to our fire and we did our best to make it last for a long time.
I still remember the feeling of relief when she pointed to the sacks in the boot of the car and said "Merry Christmas." We hadn't got off to a good start and she still didn't really think I was suitable for her boy but she had given us a present that made all our lives that much easier. She has dementia now and is fading away, but for that one simple act I loved her then and I love her now more than 30 years on.