The best kinds of Christmas gifts

Tomorrow, we’re dismantling our Christmas tree. We’re boxing up the ornaments and winding up the lights and garland. We’ll put the three-section tree into it’s convenient carrying case and place it all in closet for next year.

Once Christmas is over, the tree seems kind of bare and a little sad. I guess that’s all part of the seasonal buildup and inevitable let down. This year has been an especially tough one for our family and I can’t say that I won’t be glad to see the last of 2013.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a very nice Christmas. Larry and I were awakened by Daniel at the crack of dawn … literally. At 5:30 a.m. We opened presents, had coffee and waffles and a relaxing day. Daniel was pleased with his gifts — a nice mixture of games, clothes and books. He received just one video game and several board games and card games.

Larry received a pair of warm slippers, some clothes and a couple of gadgets. But he was almost as thrilled with Daniel’s games as his own gifts.

I received some nice things from my two guys, but I as I watched Larry and Daniel play cards, I realized that the best gifts this year weren’t ones that could be unwrapped.

I received the gift of two days with my little family. It’s pretty rare for all of us to be home at the same time these days. Daniel’s involved in lots of activities, Larry has a long commute every day and I’m on the go all the time it seems. So the time together was bliss, simply bliss. We also had the gift of conversation, sitting around the dining room table. We talked more than we had in weeks, ate together every meal and made plans for the coming year. It was difficult for me to realize that in just a few months I will have a teenager and all that brings with it.

We played card games and board games. Daniel learned that his mother is a cutthroat Scrabble player. I learned that he gets quite excited when a card game starts to go his way. With that came yet another gift. We laughed until the tears rolled down my cheeks. We joked and kidded around. The laughter helped alleviate the sense that something or someone was missing.

I’m grateful for the gifts I received this Christmas and throughout the year. I guess sometimes, we’re just moving too fast to recognize how awesome these blessings are.

As we move toward the new year, we’re spending some time thinking about what’s coming up. The start of a new year is always exciting and full of possibilities for change, growth and learning. Here’s hoping that all of our readers have a safe, healthy and hopeful holiday season, full of promise for the coming year.