Sunday, December 26, 2010

Best Christmas Present Ever

Looking around my living room I see bits and pieces of wrapping paper and ribbons still littering the floor. Presents freshly unwrapped are stacked in one corner, waiting to be put away. Holiday candles and Christmas tree lights are glowing as the snow swirls outside my window and a favorite old movie is on TV.

It's almost bedtime on the day after Christmas. Family and friends have come and gone and soon the goodies will be, too, if not the extra pounds.

What was your favorite present this year?

Was it something homemade? Something you'd longed for or something you didn't even realize you wanted?

I've discovered the older I get, the less I remember the gifts I received and the more I remember the gifts I gave. I remember most the planning, the plotting, the saving, the shopping, even the clever wrapping of that perfect gift for someone special. Those are the memories that stick with me, more than what was in those boxes with my name on the label.

The gift is in the giving.

Last year we flew to Texas the week before Christmas for the memorial service for my mother-in-law. My husband, a Baptist minister, led the service. His sister and her daughters sang “It Is Well With My Soul”. I don't know how they managed to hold it together, unless it was the thought that their mother believed they could do anything and would have expected nothing less of them.

My mother-in-law was a great lady who made things happen and who also knew the value of a quiet, unplanned day.

When we visited her she gave us wonderful home cooked meals

whirlwind shopping trips



and time.

Thinking of her I realized what my favorite gift was this Christmas.


Time with my daughter, who no longer lives under my roof. I'm so grateful she's close enough to visit now and then. Time to get to know someone special she brought home with her this year.

Time with my younger daughter who is finishing high school in a few months, to watch glimpses of the little kid she once was before it's her turn to take on the world beyond our door.

Time with my husband, to see his burdens briefly lifted by the presence of our daughters, knowing that for a little while he's not thinking about the job hunt that continues to drag on much too long or a hundred other worries that weigh heavily on his mind during his long commute to his “in-between” part-time job every day.

Time for phone calls full of laughter

with relatives who live too far away for visits,

yet they are always in my heart.

Time to tell my daughters about them and

share memories of my childhood Christmases,

introducing them to family members they never got the chance to meet,

loved ones I sometimes see in their smiles

and hear in their laughter.

You can't wrap that up neatly and stick a bow on it.

Time and love.

I hope your life is full of both in the new year.


  1. Donna,

    What a beautiful post! I won't put on here every thought that I have from this post but I'll share something with you quickly. My favorite Christmas present this year was my grandmother giving me a necklace of hers that I had long admired. She told me she was going to leave it to me in the Will but she wanted me to have it now. I don't know how many more Christmases I'll get with her (if any) but I'll never forget this present and one day I can pass it on to my granddaughter and if I don't have children, I can pass it on to a niece or a cousin.

  2. That's a lovely post, Donna. This Christmas I worked nights, like I do most Christmases because I'm single and have no children. I generally prefer to work it to give those with kids the opportunity to spend time with their families. Also, it gives me New Year's Eve off, since I have, for the past few years, had friends in on New Year's.

    Mom was over in my home province of Newfoundland for Christmas with my sister, brother-in-law and the two boys.

    Christmas morning, Dad made his traditional Christmas French Toast breakfast, and bacon. Then we got changed and open the few presents under the tree. Lunchtime I drove him to the airport, where he was going over to Newfoundland. Mom said the rest of the presents for me will be coming back with Dad when he returns, so I'll have belated presents :D

    It's very unusual but we had a green Christmas - no snow until today (27th), and boy is it a doozy with whiteout conditions. It almost didn't really seem like it was Christmas.

    What I have really enjoyed is how well done out the Christmas decorations at work are for the residents; it's just beautiful.

    One of the best presents I gave this year was a Christmas powerpoint presentation that I made with old family photos. You were right - Mom said it did bring a few tears! :)

  3. So very true, Donna. I don't quote from others often as I believe one should provide their own statements of grandeur, but in this case, a little of the Bard's Henry VI seems very appropriate. "Defer no time, delays have dangerous ends." Time is the perfect gift...and then re-gift it.

  4. I could not agree more. The time with my kids over the past few days has been priceless. So glad you had family time!

  5. That is what Christmas is supposed to be all about!

    Have you ever seen "Santa Claus - The Movie" from 1985? It is one of my most beloved Christmas movies from when I was little. I remember that any time I got a wooden or home-made present from Santa, I knew it was real! Also, in that movie, Santa is just a regular guy who delights in giving other people joy, and that is why he becomes Santa Claus.

    There are a lot of Amish in our community, and my "mother-in-law" gave me a hand-made basket with the name and age of the girl who made it signed on the bottom. My cousin that I exchange a gift with every year crocheted me an angel and snowflakes for my Christmas tree. My 91-year-old grandmother had the Amish build each of her grandchildren a wooden stool exactly like one that we all have memories of sitting on at her house as children. My sister made and decorated cookies as gifts, and my mother braided each of us a rug. I can't remember the last time so much thought and effort went into some of my Christmas gifts.

    I know there are people out there who for some reason or another may not have had a very merry Christmas. I've been there. Life has its ups and downs and all I can say is hang in there! Warm thoughts to everyone as we head into the New Year and try to make one better than the last! I'm looking forward to it!