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Ten best gifts of a lifetime

Oh the pressure is on, to give the perfect gift, or at least something the recipient wants would be nice.

At the beginning of the shopping season, people are putting thought into each present, trying to please with a gift and by the end of the long days of mall hopping, parking miles away, fighting the stressed out crowds, the Christmas shopper just grabs something and grumbles under their breath that they don’t care at least they have something to wrap.

OH the joy of giving! Good intentions fade into obligation.

As on the Big Bang Theory where the overly intelligent Sheldon explains his reason for not wanting a gift, “… the foundation of gift giving is reciprocity. You haven’t given me a gift. You’ve given me an obligation.”

I feel that way sometimes.

However, in my life, I have had many wonderful gifts presented to me and their impact has remained as I open the not-so-wanted presents this year, I like to take a look at those times when the giver got it right.

In my top ten best gifts list I will begin with any gift that my brother has given me because he always gets it right. He knows the kind of watch or the music I want. He knows his sister and cares; that in itself is the best gift.

Growing up, one of my most memorable Christmas gifts under the tree was surprisingly a calculator in the days of non-tech items, and the fact I really did not think I was getting one; the Christmas snapshot is etched in my mind of my gasp as the gift was revealed. It was big and bulky and you can get it for a dollar today. But, it was such a cool gift! Just like the Barbie Doll Airplane, a tape recorder, or the transistor radio which were all very hip.

Not all great gifts are surprises, my number eight best gift was something that I got every year and knew it was coming. My grandmother, we called Ninnie, handmade the best Barbie Doll clothes from robes, dresses, jumpsuits, to fancy undies. She sold them in masses at flea markets in the community. Check your storage because you might have some stored away. To me, they are treasures.

Some gifts just hit the right spot. My husband and older kids gave me a set of chimes, the large, expensive kind that make the best sound. I still love their music. It plays the tune called “I am cherished.”

Timing is right for some presents. One year, as was many years, my birthday came around and financially my husband and I were struggling. He was a music minister and I was a stay at home mom which meant very little cash for extras. My brother, Joe instigated a birthday party at my parents and my cousin Scott was involved in the plotting because they pitched in and bought me a bicycle. That was the best bike I had ever received, even better than the Tech mountain bike I bought myself years later which was way more expensive. It could never top that Wal-mart special bicycle.

It is always memorable when your kids buy or make you a present. And as much as we like the homemade treasures, the trinkets that they saved to buy, usually they are sentimental gifts that pull at our mother heartstrings. Those are wonderful gift moments.

One year my older sons, who did not have much in the way of money, pulled together and bought me the expensive iPod that was a couple of hundred dollars. The sacrifice of donating their cash was a heart-felt gift, but the fact they got me exactly what I had been wanting for a long time and still use today years later makes it one of the best gifts of my life.

In 1997, I did not realize what a special Christmas my family was experiencing.  It would be the last one for my husband who would be killed a couple of weeks later. The gift he gave me was so special that holiday because he bought me an engagement ring and spent more than he had ever spent on a Christmas gift. Like many struggling parents, spouse gifts were always kept to a limited minimum and all proceeds were directed to the children.

Why the diamond ring? I am such a scatter brain. I had lost my wedding rings the summer before and as someone who rarely takes them off, I could not believe how I did such a disturbing deed. It was a year later while moving I discovered in an old, canvas tote that I took to the beach that I had slipped my rings into it for fear the loose fitting rings would come off in the surf. Norman took the initiative and bought me a ring to replace the set. It was a very special gift.

My number three all time favorite gift was a heart. Not a transplant, but the heart of a man who saw a single mother with what the world calls, baggage or in my case, two sons without a father, and gave his heart, a very treasured commodity, and stepped into the crazy world in which I live. He could have run. He didn’t even try. (He should have.) Nevertheless, Carl welcomed all the challenges and to this day the precious gift of his heart makes all the days a blessing, filled with love and adventure.

My number two favorite gift is not the normal wrapped under the tree kind either. It came in four parts. These gifts are ultra special, they are indeed gifts and I am blessed to have them.

I was given four sons, all very unique, very special and very much a blessing. None were wrapped. They all were very costly and are very valuable. They are branded with a high-end name, no generics or knockoffs and each were given to me to treasure. They are Zach, Luke, Cade and Conner, and for all the complaining I may do in my column about raising them, they are the gift that keeps on giving— love, joy, pride, and a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart. And, sometimes heartburn.

My best and most sacred gift of all was a gift that totally represents this Christmas season. I was given the gift of a savior. I was given the chance to redeem myself and embrace the abundant life that a born-again Christian can have. This gift is given to all, but not all accept it. I took this gift in March of 1975 at twelve years old and have never regretted it since.

So, open those presents and don’t be sad that you did not get what you wanted. Rarely do those gifts come our way. Treasure the greatest gifts of your lifetime and remember the stores have a lenient return policy. Merry Christmas.