Gifts from the heart are all you’ll remember

“To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year.”

Elwyn Brooks White

With Christmas only 6 days away, I find myself growing nostalgic for the holidays of my past and those individuals who helped comprise the celebration.

I know I’m not alone in this feeling, as December 25th seems to be the one time of year when we all mourn the loss of relationships, which are no longer a part of our daily lives.

This will be my second Christmas here in Colorado, after spending 38 years in a small New Jersey town I, and countless family members, were raised in.

It’s been an adjustment to say the least.

Forming new relationships is never easy, more importantly finding individuals with whom you connect with wholeheartedly and unconditionally is a definite challenge. It serves as a somewhat painful reminder of what it is I left behind, and how often I undoubtedly took those relationships for granted when they were standing right in front of me.

With Christmas now nothing more than a time of year for retailers to make money, it’s been difficult to remind myself that the true “gifts” in life come from the heart NOT from the wallet.

When I arrived home yesterday, admittedly feeling melancholy, I noticed a box from the post office sitting on my front steps. My wife and I did most of our shopping online this year, so the presence of yet another box wasn’t a complete surprise.

However, the name on the package was – it was from a young woman I had the pleasure of working with in New Jersey right before we moved west. She was an amazing bright spot during my work day – talented, creative, funny, caring, with a tough girl attitude that was truly endearing.

We hit it off right away and even almost two years later, I can still remember the tears in her eyes as we hugged goodbye on my last day of work. She had thrown me a wonderful goodbye party that day, complete with her homemade pistachio cookies which she KNEW I loved!

We don’t often think that simply going about our day and offering humor and kindness to the people around us is ever something people will remember. But we’d be naïve to think that our impact on this world is insignificant.

Sadly, as life grows more chaotic and time seems to escape us, I haven’t been as diligent as I should in keeping in contact with her. It’s one of those things that always lingers on the back of your mind and yet somehow something else manages to takes its place during the day.

As I opened the packing tape with a scissor and gathered up the red and green tissue paper filling the voids in the box, I immediately stopped as tears began pooling at the bottom of my eyes.

There before me was a metal tin adorned in holiday décor and the words “Merry Christmas”. Through the clear window at the top of the tin I could clearly see a dozen or so cookies – pistachio cookies she had made and shipped across the country.

gifts from the heart

I stood there somewhat speechless as I felt the true magic and meaning of Christmas flow all around me. Regardless of the miles or the fact that our communications had been infrequent, she provided me a meaningful gift from the heart filled with thought and feeling and love.

Dear readers, those are the gifts people will remember as they journey through life. Those are the gifts that remind us that we’re loved and appreciated, and perhaps more importantly, that someone is thinking of us.

I’m not sure any words could ever fully express just how much I needed her wonderful gift at that very moment. And while it saddens me that I have yet to find such a friendship here in Colorado, the reminder that such a connection still exists is truly a blessing this Christmas.

Oscar Wilde once wrote, “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”

This holiday season, remind yourself of what the true meaning of Christmas is. Stop racking your brain for some over-the-top present idea with a short shelf life, and give something meaningful.

Because as I was just reminded with a tin full of cookies (I’m munching on one right now!) gifts from the heart is a gift you will always take with you.

Happy Holidays!