At a holiday dinner party with several of my closest friends and my beloved this past weekend, I posed the question: “What was the best gift you ever received?”
I have always loved giving presents and have a special prowess for gifting good gifts. I have ideas all year long. I have a 6th sense for noticing what a person likes or doesn’t have, and like a squirrel preparing for the coming cold, I tuck that present idea away for an appropriate occasion. Loving gift giving so much, and the recent pursuit of holiday gifts prompted my question.
But despite the fact that we all had spent time and money obtaining gifts for loved ones in the last weeks, my question was met by a befuddled pause and some crinkled foreheads. We all, myself included, had initial trouble remembering our favorite presents. Considering all the gifts we’d undoubtedly wracked up over the years, this was rather astonishing.
It was difficult for the group to remember gifts they’d received over the years.
The best I could do in the moment was the year that I created a lot of hubbub because on Christmas morning, I had the biggest present under the tree (I believe this was 1987). It turned out to be a quilt, blue flannel with little white lambs on it. Though the quilt-ness of it ended the jealousy of my siblings, that quilt ended up being my comfort-object for years and years. By the time I let it go, it was ratty and torn and beyond repair. That was a good gift, years of comfort.
1. I was still pondering the conversation the next morning, curious about the best gifts I’ve received over the years. I surprised myself with the answers. Here are my top three (in chronological order).1. Years ago, there was an program in Energetic Healing that I wanted to attend; it felt like the necessary next step in my practitioner training. However, I did not have the money to attend, even on a monthly-payment plan. In a conversation with my then-husband, I expressed my desire and concern. He responded, “Set your intention. If this is what you really want, set your intention.” I took the advice and decided to apply for the program, despite being plagued with visions of financing it with my already-strained credit card. A week later—to the day—I received an offer for my tuition to be paid. A scholarship, if you will, but only in my name. Two people who knew me and the work that I did wanted me attend the Energy Healing Program. When they learned that it was a financially a stretch, they offered me the gift of my tuition. And I accepted.
- Attending that two-year program was life-changing. That gift impacts me every day.
2. In 2013, when I decided to separate from my-then husband, my friend offered me a home. It was so casual, almost a throw-away statement in its ease: “You know, you can come stay with me.” Granted, she was long-term care-taking a 5-bedroom house and had ample room, but she didn’t even pause. I needed a home and she had space. It was that simple.
- My separation was an education in just how great of friends I have. It was the sweetness within the sorrow. Whatever I needed, there was someone there to provide it. I am so loved. And incidentally, we both really enjoyed sharing home space. It was lovely.
3. This year, for my birthday, my beloved gave me an aloe plant. It was humble (and unwrapped) as far as presents go. But I knew what he was actually giving me. Having recently moved in my very first owned-home, I had made a statement a few weeks before about how every house needs an aloe plant, that an “aloe plant is part of what makes a house a home.”
- Home had been missing for a number of years in my life prior to this year, and I sorely needed it. I knew that with that humble aloe plant, my beloved was giving me a piece of home.
The theme I was charmed to discover is that my “best gifts ever” weren’t things. Or if they were a thing, it wasn’t the thing itself that was meaningful, it was the sentiment behind it. It was faith in me, it was home, it was Love.
The day after the holiday party, I saw a cartoon thatshowed a cat giving its friend a gift in a large box. When the friend opened the box, he exclaimed, “It’s empty!” And the cat replied, “No, it’s not empty. It is full of love!” And then stated it was the best present he could imagine giving.
So this year, I want to give love. Boxes and boxes of it. To others and to myself. To those that may not even deserve it (but deserve it all the more so because of that). I picked some pretty great gifts this year, sure, but if all the recipients look back and recall is being loved, that is perfect.