My great-grandmother, Annie (known to me as Nannie), lived past her ninety-fourth birthday. Every Christmas Eve, she sat in the same chair and delighted us all with the heartiest of laughs at whatever gifts she was given. She was always particularly fond of my gift to her — twelve rolls of Life Savers® Pep O Mint® candies arranged in a box that opened like a book. The poor woman received this same gift from me from the time I was about five until I was sixteen. Because her needs were few (and, as she aged, became fewer still) I stayed with what worked.
However, if I could go back to my sixteen-year-old self, I would have surprised her. On our last Christmas together, rather than cleverly packaged candies, I would have written her a thank-you note to express my gratitude for years of fun play. Nannie was a gifted designer and seamstress who applied her incredible skills to outfitting my dolls. From my favorite baby dolls to Barbie, Midge, and Skipper, every doll was outfitted in original couture. No pattern was required, only an endless mound of fabric scraps of taffeta, silk, cotton, netting in a variety of colors (as every dress had sewn-in petticoats), and for Barbie’s wedding gown and matching veil—lace, sequins, and tiny pearls. Every dress, blouse, and skirt was a miniature work of art.
I regret that I did not (and sometimes still fail to) properly acknowledge and thank someone important for their significant contributions to my life. I can’t go back in time to right all my slights, but I can certainly correct this oversight going forward. And there’s no better time than the holidays. If you have someone on your Christmas list who is nearly impossible to buy for (whether they are aging or have everything they could possibly need or want), I have an idea. This gift suggestion is also especially appropriate for those you’ve not talked with in years.
Give them your gratefulness. Write a thank-you note or, better yet, call them or share with them in person how they have impacted your life. From family members to teachers, thank them for their patience and sacrifice. Call an ex-boss, a co-worker, or a friend from days gone by and let them know their words of wisdom or their example has made you a better person, a better employee, a better wife, a better mother, or a better friend. At a restaurant last week, I bumped into an old boss from over twenty years ago and told him how often I recall his management “truths” and thanked him for all he had taught me. I was tickled pink that he was touched and speechless at the gift of gratitude he was given.
For those who have everything, there’s one treasure they can always use more of (hint: it’s not peppermints). Stuff a little acknowledgment, some appreciation, and a whole lot of love in a virtual box and send it to someone who has gifted you with their gifts. This will be a present they will never exchange and never forget.
Merry Christmas, dear friends!