When I was young, younger than I can remember, my dad bought my mother a beautiful gold charm bracelet. From then on, finding the perfect charm for a birthday or Christmas gift was a truly exciting moment for my brother and me. Each charm was special, and each was engraved with the date and our names.
For Dad, there were a variety of gifts over the years including books, ties, and silk suspenders. As we–my brother and I grew older–gifts became a bit more grownup in nature such as a special bottle of wine, theater, or concert tickets.
Gift giving was always a really big deal in our household. It wasn’t about the gift or how much money we spent. Rather, the gift was more about pleasing the recipient, finding that special something that would be truly loved and enjoyed. It was a crucial part of the process to pay close attention to random comments such as, “Gee, I could really us a . . . “or, “I would just love to have a . . . . “ Later, when the wish was long forgotten, one of us would purchase whatever had been wished for to be given as a gift.
Christmas is the time for all sorts of memories and gifts, but one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received is the gift of giving. My parents never told me, “It’s better to give than to receive.” They didn’t have to. Our lives were about giving. This may be why I’m incapable of walking past the Salvation Army bucket, why I love to participate in the angel tree, and why, even though my parents insist they need nothing for Christmas and to please not buy them anything, I have to. Because even though a gift may be small, the act of giving is the very best part of Christmas and of life.