Tonight at the dinner table, my husband and I were talking about presents for the family, mostly for our grandchildren and adult children. Making lists of what we thought they might want segued into a more general conversation about gifts. How did we feel about giving gifts for Christmas, birthdays, or other holidays? My husband told me that when he was growing up, the best present he got from his mother was a needle-nose plier. He went on to say that he was somewhat uncomfortable with the giving of extravagant gifts as that was not what he was accustomed to. It wasn’t because his family couldn’t afford it, it was just how it was done.
I had a somewhat different history. When I was growing up, there were lots of presents under the tree. Some of them were, by my husband’s standards, pretty expensive. Birthday presents were also fairly significant. And I took this bounty for granted. I still do.
I was showing him a picture of a Tiffany bracelet that his 20-year-old granddaughter had requested. Why shouldn’t his granddaughter have the Tiffany bracelet? The price was not in my view excessive. Of course, I am not making any judgment here. We all need to be cognizant of our budgets. But the best present is the one that the receiver loves.
My husband felt happy to get those needle-nose pliers because they were helpful with his hobbies and home repair jobs. But they also meant someone had listened to him. Someone knew that working with his hands gave him joy. And by adding a little something to his toolkit, they increased his happiness as he puttered around, making and mending, learning carpentry by touch and intuition.
With all the Hanukkah shopping and Christmas lists being written, let’s not let our winter holidays become tied down to a lengthy shopping list of random stuff. Instead, let’s actually spend some time trying to find the perfect gift for a loved one? Something meaningful. Let’s take the time to listen to their wishes and find out who they really are. We don’t have to try to impress anyone, and this season doesn’t have to become an unpleasant marathon of consumerism that we’d like to be done with as quickly as possible
My husband and I enjoyed our cups of cocoa. We gently continued to exchange the differences drawn from our upbringings, deepening our intimacy and learning still more about each other. Our differences have drawn us together as much as the easy compatibilities in our marriage.
When I got a bit sleepy, I went into the bedroom where my Cavalier King Charles puppy, only two years old, was sleeping curled up on the bed. I looked at him with all the love I had when I first saw him. I went over to him to give him a kiss, as I do countless times each day. He yawned and stretched, then kissed me on my nose. Not a speck of criticism could exist in his lovely brown eyes. I realized that he was my best present ever. He continues to be that amazing blessing day after day. His love and devotion for me and all the joy he brings to others as a therapy dog is a present with no price tag. He brings smiles and joys to many. But he always has a special, sweet look for me that says: “I know you. You are my person. You take care of me, and I take care of you.”
Love comes in so many different flavors. But whenever it appears, it is a blessing, and we can all benefit from taking a moment to recognize love and let it open our hearts. This is why I am writing this blog. This holiday season, look around you for your “best present ever.” You may find it is near you every day and often goes without notice.