I know there are people who shop all year for Christmas. They keep lists in their wallets (or on their iPhones).

I know there are Christmas Eve shoppers who have no lists and are in the stores that last shopping day. This appears to work for them and their recipients.

In between there are the shoppers who hoped they were all done shopping but then realized that their office mate or neighbor got them a gift and they were not prepared to reciprocate.

They quickly had to go out and get something: a truly last-minute gift. It doesn’t really reflect love and kindness, more just a bit of guilt.

But I believe there is a different type of “last-minute gift” that does reflect love and kindness and a bit of Maine spirit and hospitality.

I remember a Christmas in Aroostook County in 1969.

My mom and dad grew up in Mars Hill but settled in central Maine. Every Christmas Day for many years, after we had our tree in the morning, the seven of us would pile into the family station wagon — minus car seats and seat belts, of course — and drive the three hours to Mars Hill for a tree and Christmas dinner. Later, we would drive to Presque Isle for Christmas night with my mother’s sisters and families.

As we got older and had a much larger extended family, we used the “draw a name” format for our gift giving, which was just fine, as we had all figured out the Santa thing. We would meet at the home of one of the aunts for a late dinner and a gift exchange.

By 1969, my siblings and I were either in graduate school or the last years of high school. We were our usual seven, but that year, our ranks were swelled by two truly last-minute arrivals. An exchange student from Australia who was having difficulty with her host family was transferred to our house two days before Christmas. Then my sister arrived home from Alaska with an unexpected guest.

So on that Christmas night in Presque Isle in 1969, our family arrived at my Aunt Duska’s house with two extra guests — and two fewer presents for the exchange.

I remember my beautiful aunt realizing this and she quietly turned to my cousin and told her go upstairs to the guest room. My cousin shortly arrived back with two tins of Maine candies appropriately wrapped and labeled. She quietly placed them under the tree. I don’t think anyone but me noticed.

When we had all enjoyed dinner and sat down for the gift exchange, everyone had a gift. Everyone felt welcomed and loved, and no one felt they had received a last-minute present.

So now each year, in memory of my aunt and that Christmas, I keep just a few presents in readiness. They aren’t last-minute; they are ready to be given with love, caring and kindness — in the true spirit of the season.

Cheryl Stitham White is a resident of South Portland.