Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Very Best Christmas Present Ever

My dad has been a school teacher for the last 20 years. On the first day of school after Christmas break, all the kids would come in comparing notes of what they got for Christmas. Dad would quiet them down, and say "I only want to hear one thing--what was the best present that you GAVE?"
This attitude is one I maintain. If course it's nice to receive some nice things, but if it is better to give than to receive (and I hope by now you know that I truly believe that it is!), then the focus should not be on how much I've spent or whether I have x number of presents for this person or that, but rather on the quality and sentiment of the gifts I give.

So what is the best present you have given?

I will share mine:

My parents live on a single income (that of a school teacher). There are 9 kids in the family, so the budget is often tight. Once a year (and only once--on Mom's birthday) my parents go out for a nice dinner. Last Christmas, for the first time in 4 years, all of us kids were going to be back home for Christmas. Hubby and I were talking about could we get together to do something nice for my parents, and we had the idea of everybody putting in however much they could afford--even just $1--toward a gift certificate to send Mom and Dad out to dinner someplace nice. So I talked with all my siblings...college students, young parents, jobless teenagers, and one 6 year old (yup, he's a caboose)...some had bigger budgets than others, but everyone (even the 6 year old) contributed a little. When it came down to it, we had come up with more than I had anticipated. So we sent them to the Space Needle. They have lived in the Seattle area for over 20 years, and never been to that iconic rotating restaurant in the sky.
I will never forget the looks on their faces when they opened the envelope and saw the card, and saw that it was literally from ALL of us. Mom cried. Dad sat in silence for a bit, and then said quietly "wow."


Elizabeth said...

Aww, that's totally a gift from the heart. Great story. I miss Seattle, the space needle restaurant is nice!

Emily said...

I absolutely LOVE giving presents, it's my favorite part of Christmas. I make it my goal every year to knock it out of the park with The Perfect Present for anyone.

The best Christmas present I've ever given will be this year, in fact. I was a single parent for many years, and so my oldest hasn't ever really experienced a lot of cool things that we could never afford. This year, I got in on an early ticket sale of the musical Wicked, and I'm giving her a mom and daughter night to see it. She has played the score in symphony, and sings along with the CD in her room. She will never imagine in a million years that she will get to go see it live, and with front-row seats (well, front row mezzanine, the best I could do on our budget).

Also, we haven't really done much together since I've been married, so we will have dinner and a date up in SLC. I am going to videotape the opening of the present, because I believe this will be the one Christmas present she will never forget. I CAN'T WAIT FOR CHRISTMAS!! Never mind what I get, I am counting the days to see her face when she opens it.

The Thalman's said...

The best Christmas gift that I have ever given would have to be the Nativity that I painted for my mother. She collects Nativities, so it was a wonderful addition for her. I do abstract art, so it is also a unique piece in her collection. And, of course, it has that loving touch of a handmade gift from a family member.

Becky said...

Great story! We actually talked about this in YW on Sunday - asked people what they GAVE instead of what they GOT.

It's a wonderful message.

Carrie said...

We did something like that last year for my MIL. My SIL and I had the idea to get my MIL a kitchenaid mixer for Christmas. Her 20 year old mixer died and since my FIL had been out of work for 2 years there was no way to replace it. All of us contributed and we were able to get her a beautiful mixer.

I wish that we could have been there to see it, but from what I was told she thought that they were just reusing a kitchenaid box as a joke so she was shocked when she actually found a kitchenaid inside!

Mommy Bee said...

I realized another AWESOME present I gave once... For my hubby on our second christmas (our first christmas was less than a week after our wedding...) I got him a gift card for a professional massage. The cool thing was, the place had a holiday deal where I could get him two massages for a discounted rate, AND his masseuse missed one of the appointments and ended up giving him a free extra massage in apology!

Samurai Mom said...

Last year I made my dad a family tree with little ornaments that had photos of all of our ancestors. He loves it.

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