The Gift

by Michael E. Kirk, PhD
Dr. Kirk is a local clinical psychologist, father and grandfather, who specializes in working with families, adolescents, and children.

The child could see the excitement in his parents’ faces. He just knew that this was going to be a fabulous holiday. His parents would always go all out to make things work. Holiday cards are sent out with a small note talking about what the family has done, or not done, over the past year. Holiday displays are put up throughout the house, and a festive feeling is ever-present. The season is further fueled by the wide assortment of television shows and movies that are available highlighting episodes of the holiday experience.

For these folks, they choose to use a fir tree as one of their symbols of the holiday spirit, and they put it in their house covered with lights, ornaments, and tinsel, along with homemade gifts the children have made throughout the years. The kitchen can become a whirlwind of activity; flour swirling about the floor, scents of cinnamon and spice, gingerbread baking to be piled with whipped cream, as the children are included in the baking of pies, cookies, and holiday meals. People gather at their home for festivities, and they themselves go out to visit others, cheerful in the seeming holiday generosity that is wafting through the air. Father frequently plays Christmas music on his beloved antique guitar, and mother is busy snapping away with her classy SLR camera creating holiday memories.

Father and mother assist with the children’s shopping for one another, but they do their own as well. They carefully save throughout the year, so they can gloriously surprise the other with a functional yet amazing gift that is practical but fully appreciated. This year though, both are certain that even with their limited budget, they are going to really surprise their partner with the gift so secretly chosen.

Holiday celebrations gradually melt into the hope and dreams for the upcoming New Year, but until then, the holidays are the show stealer. Sooner than later, the big day comes. The children, having contained their excitement for as long as humanly possible, feel their patience waning as the pulsing in their hearts push them toward the big moment of gift-giving. Everyone is excited to see what gifts they will receive and just as excited to see the reactions of those who receive gifts, both hand-made and purchased, from them.

Finally, it is mother and father’s turn to perform their annual gift exchange. Mother coyly points out father’s gift in the corner, wrapped tightly with colored holiday paper. He shyly begins working to uncover the large present. With a smile and a shake of his head, he takes the wrapping off to uncover a small amplifier for his acoustic guitar, something he has been wanting for a very long time. Mother says, “Get your guitar, and let’s plug it in,” and the children all agree in unison. Father smiles warmly and points to his gift to mother in a bigger box near the tree as he says, “First things first.” So, mother suspiciously goes to her gift and begins to unwrap it. As she does, she too begins to smile. In it is the camera tripod stand she has always wished for along with a multitude of camera equipment and two extra wide-angle lenses. Father says, “Quick, get your camera. Let’s see how they all work.” But, mother just smiles. Father looks at her questioningly, as she again encourages him to first retrieve his guitar for some holiday tunes with the new amplifier. His eyes bright, he again requests mother to retrieve her camera to try out all her new equipment.

Mother, now sheepishly smiling at father with a single tear rolling down her cheek says to father, “I sold the camera to get you the guitar amplifier.” Father, in turn, smiles with several tears rolling down his cheeks and says,” I sold my guitar to purchase your camera equipment.”  They look at each other with tears in their eyes, smiling, and embracing with the children looking on. The holiday morning could not have been better. All who were there had been shown that the gift of the holidays is not so much in the getting as it is in the giving. The real gift is the giving from the heart.

Happy Holidays to all!

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Tags: Featured Story, Parenting

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