"They'd be a whole lot better if I had the money to buy what everyone really wants this year."
That was the response to my question, "Are you enjoying the holidays?" posed to a colleague last week.
What does everyone really want? If you're a kid... of course, you want toys. And you want to feel special, loved, cherished. Just like the grown-up versions do.
For the most part, I don't recall the holiday gifts my boys gave to me over the years. I think there was a coffee pot that automatically ground coffee beans in there somewhere. Probably a bathrobe, or two, or three. I vaguely remember some bubble bath sets. But there were two I will never, ever forget. One from my oldest, Hunter, when he was about 7 years old. It was wrapped in paper he'd decorated at school himself and inside was a letter, rolled up and tied with a bow. The letter, written in his own hand, told me all the reasons he was glad that I was the mother God had decided to give him to.
The second was a similar gift from my youngest, Austin, when he was 13 years old. He had saved his money and bought me a heart-shaped necklace but I mostly recall that detail because it was wrapped in tissue paper and tucked inside a card where he had written all the things he appreciated I did for him throughout the year that went mostly unnoticed. He asked in the card that every time I wore the necklace I would remember that he did notice and that he would remember.
I read once about a family whose tradition was to write notes of love and appreciation to each other, decorate them, and hide them in their Christmas tree to be read by loved ones on Christmas Eve. I bet, years later, those gifts are not forgotten.
I know a couple who take their children down to Mexico each year to the same orphanage where they spend a day distributing blankets, clothing, and simple toys and playing games with the kids. Their tradition is to take turns leading and singing Christmas carols all the way down in the car. I suspect they won't be forgetting those gifts either.
What does everyone really want? Connection, love, appreciation, joy. Over time, they'll forget the store-bought gifts... And they'll forever remember the heart-bought ones.
May the holidays bring you unexpected and unbridled joy - and may you give it in abundance in return.