The “Important” Box
By Eve Gonzales
All rights reserved
It is that time of year again – holiday parties with family and friends, shopping, gift giving, Christmas plays and concerts, fun and enjoyment.
Each year we spend a lot of time and money on making sure we buy items for all the people on our list, but the fact is, many of those gifts will quickly be forgotten.
As I have grown older; and something I learned from my children years ago; it is not the latest and greatest items on the market they remember but the time shared with those they love, the happy memories they have made, and the gifts that made a difference.
Several years ago, my children’s gift list began to change – from the latest thing out on the market to something special and things that count.
Something special – One day when we were cleaning my son’s room I noticed he had a box marked “important”. In the box were different napkins, small trinkets, and hand written notes. I asked him what they were and his answer was amazingly beautiful. My son began to pick up each napkin and explain that each one had come from a dinner or event he had had with us, his grandparents, aunts, uncles, or adopted family. As he held the napkins and shared the story that each one held, the love and cherished moments of that outing flooded back into the forefront of his mind and he smiled as he spoke. He did the same thing with each and every item in the box.
When we had gone through the entire box I asked him if he remembered what he had received each Christmas from all these people who he had kept a token of special moments shared together and he replied – no; except for those items he had that were of need or of life value. Did that mean he did not appreciate all the gifts of the past – absolutely not – he always was grateful for whatever was under the tree (nothing was ever returned) – but – he remembered the precious moments and the items that kept him prepared and safe the most.
Things that count – My son will tell you that the gifts he remembers are those that made an impact in his life. He will tell you about the year we had very little food or money and how we received food under our tree and gift baskets at our door – he was so thrilled! He will tell you about the year he received a special letter and an heirloom gift from his grandparents; he will tell you about the warm winter coat he received because his original one did not keep him warm; he will tell you about the emergency kit that provided him with food, water, and warmth when his car ran out of gas and he was stranded along the roadside on a very cold night. He will surprise you by being able to tell you when and from whom he got those gifts.
After spending hours talking and listening to my son, I realized I had been going about gift giving the wrong way – he wasn’t looking for the latest and greatest he was looking for special moments and things that would help him through every day life.
From that day forward, the items under our tree changed and so did our holiday activities. We spent less time shopping and more time baking cookies, watching holiday movies at home with friends and family, and sitting around a bonfire talking about things that matter. The gifts under the tree became more about things that would be a blessing to them in their hour of need or items that held a meaning. The beautiful thing was that we were able to do this while both our children were still relatively young.
Because we are a crisis first responder family and my children have seen the results of not being prepared, they provide a list of items they still desire to have in their relief supplies and items of need such as food, socks, shoes, etc.
Thinking that these items would be long forgotten as well, I asked both my children what they received 2 years ago and they rattled off each item, let me know if they had used them, or if they were in their supply kits. They told me what their happy moments were that year; and I was grateful.
Sometimes our tree has had more items under it then others but it did not matter because we filled our home with love, laughter, and many special moments.
Christmas is not about the latest and greatest things on the market but about making moments that count. Gift giving is something we do because we enjoy to, and because we like to see people smile and let them know we care – so make it a gift they will remember in years to come or in their hour of need. You will be happy in return when you get that phone call thanking you because the gift you gave them helped them feel better, or kept them warm when the power went out in a storm or when they were stranded alongside a road over night. You will be happy when you sit around years later and they talk about how grateful they were that you had thought to give them that gift.
Love and caring are the two greatest gifts we can give to a person; if you do not have money to buy a gift – that is ok, just make special time with them to form the memories that will last a lifetime; write a special letter filled with how much they mean to you; give them something of yours as an heirloom gift they can treasure – if you do, in years to come, you just might find a box marked “important” in their room as well!
May this holiday season be filled with many cherished and special blessing for you all!