At age eight, I received a most meaningful gift. It was a big beautiful doll with blond hair and eyes that opened and closed. I had worked hard for that doll. To get on Santa’s “good” list, I cleaned my room and did my chores. Not wanting to leave anything to chance, I even did everyone else’s chores. When I opened the box Christmas morning and saw two big blue eyes staring back at me, I was elated. I felt as if I could make every dream come true if I wanted it bad enough and was willing to work for it.
At twelve, I received a most meaningful gift. It was an angora sweater. A year earlier, I had received toys for Christmas. “Graduating” to clothes was a big deal. I remember feeling so grown-up. That gift told me that others saw me that way, too.
At seventeen, I received a most meaningful gift. It was a heart-shaped necklace from my boyfriend. I believed at that moment that love would last forever. The chain snapped less than a week later, and we broke up soon after. That gift taught me that some things are meant to last for only a short time, and that we must enjoy them while we can.
In my twenties, I received a most meaningful gift. Our oldest son was born just before Christmas. It was a gift that both elated and humbled me. This baby—this beautiful gift from God—was solely dependent on me and I wanted so much to be the perfect mother. But as I walked the floor that Christmas day trying to comfort a colicky baby, I realized the futility of that goal. I soon learned that no child ever said that his or her mother was perfect, only that she was the best.
In my thirties, I received a most meaningful gift. The Christmas I most remember during that time was a bleak one. My husband’s company was on strike and we were down to our last fifty cents. As I filled our three children’s stockings with nuts and oranges, I dreaded the following morning when they would see how little Santa had left. Much to my surprise and delight, I never heard one of them complain. If anything, they seemed to be more appreciative of the few gifts they did receive. That was the year I learned that sometimes less is more.
I received the most meaningful gift during our saddest year. Our oldest son died a few months before Christmas and I couldn’t even bring myself to put up a tree. I cried most of that day and I don’t remember what presents I received, but I do remember one important gift. For it was that year that I learned that we’re stronger than we think we are, and though we lose so very much with the death of a love one, we can’t possibly count all the blessings that remain.
I don’t know what gifts are in store for me this Christmas, but I do know this: the gifts that touch our hearts are the ones that stay with us the longest.
Merry Christmas and may the gifts of love, peace and joy be yours.
Enjoy the Gift of Reading