My Most Meaningful Christmas Gifts

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.

 

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Margaret Brownley
Margaret has published more than 40 books and is a N.Y. Times Bestselling author and two-time Romance Writers of America Rita Finalist. She writes historical novels set--where else?--in the Old West! She has written for a day time soap and is currently working on a new series. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.
Updated: December 21, 2017 — 9:19 am

31 Comments

  1. What a beautiful and heartfelt post for all… but especially for those with an empty chair… Thank you for sharing, this Margaret…. Bless you!

    1. Thank you, Ruth. My hope and prayer is that we can all fill our empty chairs with happy memories this Christmas.

      God bless you!

  2. I absolutely love this post, Margaret. Merry Christmas, my friend.

    1. Pam, thank you. Merry Christmas to you, too, friend!

  3. That was beautiful. Christmas is often lost with the rush to get everything done. We need to stop and remember that Christmas is magic and teaches us so many things that never appear under a tree.

  4. I enjoyed your post. It shows us to appreciate what you do have even in the toughest of times.

    1. Hi Janine,
      Sometimes we have to look hard to see the blessings, but we can always find them.

      Wishing you and your family a merry Christmas!

  5. This post was both touching and beautiful, Margaret. I lost my father very unexpectedly at Christmas as he had lost his father on the same day when he was only nine years old. He hated Christmas for that reason. Yes, sometimes it is hard to see the blessings, but if we look they are all around us.
    Merry Christmas.

    1. Rosie, thank you so much for sharing. I’m so sorry for your loss, and your father’s, too.
      It’s hard to lose a loved one as an adult, but even harder as a child.

      Here’s hoping that happy memories will fill your heart with Christmas joy.

      God bless,
      Margaret

  6. Thank you for this beautiful message. My Christmas dynamic will certainly be different this year. My mom passed away this past Feb. so this is the first Christmas without either of my parents. Now there are two empty chairs but the memories and my faith will be a great comfort.
    Blessings to you.

    1. Connie, sorry for the loss of your mother. Yes, it will be a different Christmas, but it can still be a joyful one.

      God bless,
      Margaret

  7. Merry Christmas!

    1. Thank you, Denise. Merry Christmas to you, too!

  8. Thank you for your thoughtful post. Margaret. Merry Christmas to you and God Bless!

    1. Eliza, thank you. God bless you, too!

  9. Thank you for a most beautiful post Margaret. I have a few empty chairs this year but after the grief I realized how grateful I was that the good Lord allowed me to be the sister and daughter to them. I have all my beautiful memories to carry me through. Have a Blessed Christmas.
    Carol Luciano

    1. Carol, thank God our loved ones live in our hearts through beautiful memories.

      Merry Christmas

  10. Margaret, I was in tears as I read your post. I really identified with so many of the things you mentioned–the lessons we learn from some of the Christmas gifts we receive, and the things we take away from our experiences in life. Just a very poignant blog post that really touched my heart. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas this year!

    1. Cheryl, I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to make you cry.

      Wishing you a merry and joyous Christmas!

      1. You did a great job as a writer, Margaret! Hugs!

  11. Your post is beautiful, Margaret. I received the best gift today. My husband had successful back surgery this morning and We had a safe trip home this afternoon. We are blessed. Merry Christmas!

    1. Melanie, that is such good news! You two have something to celebrate. Thank you for sharing. Merry Christmas to you both!

  12. What a lovely post. I cannot imagine the loss of a child at any time of the year, but during the holidays it would be even more heartbreaking, if that is possible. A friend once told me the loss of her mom at Christmas was brought back fresh every year and broke her heart all over again. A friend lost her 24 year old son last month and they are struggling to deal with the holidays.

    As you pointed out, each year and stage of our lives we want, appreciate and learn things we never expect. Thanks for the thought provoking post. I hope you have an enjoyable and blessed Christmas and a wonderful 2018.

    1. Patricia,

      My heart aches for your friend who lost her son. There are just no words…

      A merry Christmas might not be possible for some, but we can all celebrate a blessed Christmas.

      Take care!

  13. I was listening to this song last night. It is perfect for anyone who has lost someone.

    1. This is beautiful! Thank you for sharing! I’m sharing it with everyone I know grieving a loss this Christmas.

    2. This is lovely. I am sharing it with friends. One lost her mother a few months ago and the other lost their 24 year od son. This is a very difficult Christmas for them.

  14. Beautiful post, Margaret!

    1. Thank you, Caryl. Merry Christmas!

  15. Oh, Margaret, as I was posting my blog this evening, I was drawn in to your blog and I read every line of it. What a touching beautiful story. My heart rejoiced with you, and cried, too. I hope your Christmas was good this year. Thank you for telling your story.

    1. oh, Karen, thank you so much! Since it’s too late to wish you a merry Christmas, I’ll wish you a happy, blessed and prosperous New Year, instead!

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