Gifts to the Future

(originally published Christmas 2006)


This evening while wrapping the first gifts of the Christmas season, I once again caught myself thinking very un-Christmasy thoughts. During my first gift-wrapping session each year, with a feeling akin to superstition, I make sure to wrap at least one gift for each person in my family before I quit wrapping. Labeled, with a handwritten little ‘I love you’ message and placed under the tree.

Only when I have wrapped a gift for every single person can I quit, relieved. Now if (heaven forbid) something happened to me before Christmas came, each of my precious ones would have a Christmas gift from me.

This morbid little obsession began the year my husband’s grandmother died. She died in early December, and as we cleaned out her house after the funeral, we discovered sacks of wrapped Christmas gifts, all carefully labeled with family member’s names.

We brought home our gifts and put them under the tree. Over the days that followed, as we ate casseroles from kind friends and opened sympathy cards and watered the death-bouquet on our dining room table, we also stole looks at the mysterious gifts from her.

On Christmas Eve we opened them to discover hand made Christmas stockings for each of our 4 children, and a Christmas tree skirt for John and me. Those were some of the most precious gifts I’d ever gotten. Gifts made for us while she lived, and opened by us after she died.

Since then, wrapping Christmas gifts for my family makes me morbid. It reminds me of my frailty, and of my longing to leave of part of myself with my loved ones. Yes, Grandma was in her 70’s when she died, and I’m only 39. Lord-willing, I’ll run through reams more Christmas wrap before I make my way to Heaven. Heck, I have every intention of wrapping gifts for great-grandkids, just as John’s grandmother did. But you never know. And so I wrap quickly, and sit back in relief when everyone has a gift.

Thinking this evening I realized that the really important gifts from John’s grandmother were not wrapped in red Christmas paper. Her steady love. Her beautiful smile. Her open Bible next to her rocking chair. Her adoration of our children. The words she spoke so often: “You kiddies are doing so well! I’m so proud of you!” Those were her most precious gifts to us.

Those gifts from her make me think of the gifts I hope to pass on to my precious ones. Hope for the future. Warmheartedness. A tendency to break into song as if life is some wacky musical. Faith in God above all else. I pray that no matter what happens, my children will know that legacy passed on by me.

As much as I am looking forward to Christmas when I can watch my children and my husband opening the gifts I wrapped in paper for them this evening, those gifts are as dust compared to the gifts I cannot wrap — the gifts I am doing my daily best to give my family, a song and a smile and a hug and a prayer at a time.


  1. What a nice little story 🙂 Even those memories are the greatest gifts of all!

  2. Geez, you sure know how to make a girl go all soft. That is the most beautiful thing I have ever heard. My dad is fit and well, although he is awaiting some test results back this very week. I am not too bothered by it, because being in the medical profession I know what to expect and also who to call when I need answers, although he is not likely to be leaving us soon, this is as one would call it ‘one of those wake up calls’, makes you think for 5 mins. So stories like this are becoming more and more important without actually realising it.
    Have a super time with the haven lot. Merry Christmas

  3. Thank you for the gift of a beautifully written reminder of what really is important.

  4. i love this about your blog…how special to be reminded of this post. i remember now reading it in 2006. thank you for sharing.

  5. Thank you for that heartwarming piece of writing. I can imagine grandma in her chair, next to her Bible, rocking, smiling, and praising the children all at the same time. You’re so right about the true gifts she gave you all, so I hope you can relax a little during gift-wrapping. Take your worry and use that energy to make sure that you are as loving as you can possibly be. I know I need to put much more focus and energy towards that; I imagine that we all could. Merry Christmas :]

  6. Oh! I thought I was the only one who did this! And yes, I feel completely paranoid about it, but I always think this way. I have to shop to make sure I have at least one thing for each kid early on, “just in case.” And when I finish, it’s a relief, not that I’m done, but that I know no one will be disappointed if I got hit by a bus tomorrow (well, I suppose the emotion would be more than disappointed, but you know what I mean). And I’m really not like this in other areas of life, so I don’t know what causes it for Christmas. But it’s nice to know I’m not the only one!

  7. I love this post . It is so true!!