This post is not a one-stop guide to finding perfect holiday presents for the whole family. It’s not even a how-to (although you’re more than welcome to recreate this project with your family this Christmas!) It’s just a reflection on an unexpected encounter with a simple Christmas gift I was given years ago.
I’ve been very blessed in my life. My family was by no means wealthy but my parents always put us kids first and our holidays were always full of good food, lots of family, and gifts galore. In many ways, I was spoiled. Despite all the gifts I’ve been given over the years- for birthdays, holidays, or for no reason at all- it’s always the case that the least expected, least anticipated, and certainly least expensive gifts mean the most to me.
Of course this has been said “many times, many ways” but as I was unloading my bags at my studio this morning I stumbled upon a gift I’d forgotten about- a gift I had actually, in a way, given myself my last Christmas before leaving for college.I think I’d seen it on Oprah, right next to whatever fancy gadget or “favorite thing” Miss Winfrey featured on her holiday special that year was a box filled with small pieces of paper. The gift was an experience. On Christmas, after dinner or before everyone passed out from eating too much a family or group of friends would sit down and write notes to one another to be placed in a box that each guest could keep. The notes could be about anything- a memory shared or something a person was grateful for about their loved one.
I decided that it would be a great gift to give my family since I would soon be moving so far away, and I am sure in some way it was a little selfish of me because I wanted to be able to bring a part of everyone along with me. It was the simplest gift I think I’ve ever given. I went to Micheal’s and got matching stationary and decorated small boxes for everyone who would be over for the night. Everyone was given a box with sheets of paper labeled with the names of each guest. After dinner I passed the boxes out and each of us went to our separate corners to write our messages to one another. When we were done we passed our notes to the proper person and then went off to read them. I remember crying then as I read all of the well wishes, and as I re-read the notes this morning I cried just as much as I did then.
It was quite the surprise to stumble upon these little reminders this morning. Sometimes you can forget how loved and supported you are, especially when you are so far away . I wasn’t able to make it home for Christmas last year, and I won’t be home for this year’s holidays either, but I know that I’m always in my family’s thoughts and I hope that they know they are always in mine! It’s truly amazing how significant the most simple of gifts can be. Happy Holidays all!