The best gift

It’s a constant reassurance to me that I am forever being taught new lessons…or reminded of old ones.

For several weeks, I had been chewing on the idea of visiting my best friend and her family for Christmas in Vegas.  I’ve done it every year since they moved, but I was given pause by the significant increase in prices of air travel (plus some onerous fees).

Finally, I decided I had to go.  Every day I would log on to various travel sites and specific airlines to check the availability and pricing.  I ultimately was able to secure travel with an arrival time early enough for my friend and I to go on our famous annual shopping trip.

The shopping adventure entails wandering around various malls and stores, enjoying a day of commentary, considering and laughing (with a smattering of food somewhere along the way).  By day’s end, I would have a gift for everyone in the family, including my friend, who I would force into telling me what she wanted (that her husband would not be getting her…no competition here!).

I was a bit concerned that the changes in airline pricing would crimp my shopping range, but I figured the two of us would figure out some way to stetch my dollars (she’s real good at that).  All that was left was to contact her and relay the happy news.

Which is not as simple as it seems, given the time difference and her occasional forgetting to check her messages.  We connected one evening (her time) and she was pleased to hear I was flying out.  At the time, she was doing some “normal” shopping with her daughter and she told her the news, which made her happy, too.

Then my friend related to me the conversation she had jut been having with her daughter, who had asked her Mom whether I was going to be there again this year.  When my friend told her I was concerned about the airfare and the difficulty in being as extravagant as I had in the past with holiday gifts, her daughter responded that the gifts weren’t important and I should be there because I was part of their family.

Despite having already come to that conclusion, I was brigthened by the comments, especially since I shared many a tough time with my friend as her daughter battled her way through a prolonged bout of self-centered behavior some years ago.  It’s a wonderful thing to see that change in character and understanding of what’s important possess her.

It’s also nice to be reminded about that very same understandng.  What’s most important in our lives are the connections we make with other lives.  The closer and more positive, the more valuable and enriched our own lives become.      I don’t believe I ever forget that, but I am happy to be nudged to take it out and think on it for a time.

I’ve read a lot of comments over the past several weeks from people trying to get others to bring back the “real” meaning of the holidays.  I can’t speak to that, since gifts offer a chance for someone to speak in ways they aren’t always able to put into words, but I do believe that we all should make time to spend with the ones we care about the most.

That time together is the best gift of all.

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