UNWRAPPING MORE THAN PRESENTS

The Gifts That Touched Hearts, Not Just Shelves
by: Penelope
● January 26, 2024

The last twinkle of holiday lights have faded, festive tunes have dimmed (a lot of people are probably thankful for this…), mountains of wrapping paper have subsided, and Christmas trees disassembled and brought down. But beneath the surface of the daily grind, something beautiful and magical lingers: the echo of the season’s spirit, resonated by the cherished memories we made and the gifts we received.

From the past holiday season, the best present(s) I received weren’t wrapped in shiny paper or tied with fancy bows. They were woven with threads of understanding, joy, and love that whispered louder than any jingle bells. The time I was able to spend with the people I love was the most special blessing of a gift that I received. The whole experience of cooking together, eating together, and cherishing each other’s presence was the present I didn’t know I needed.

Yes, I won’t lie, the cash gifts were bomb. 😉 But heyyyyyy what is cash without people you love to enjoy it with? Given my realizations, it made me wonder… What were the best gifts that other people received this past holiday? Are people more practical or sentimental? Adulting or just simply enjoying life and the blessings that come? So many thoughts for this curious cat… LOL… I decided to ask my peers and here are some of the answers I received: 

 

The GIFT of TIME and PRESENCE:

Not a gift, but the time off gave me the space and time to explore myself and sit with my growth over the past year.Skyler

Solitude is underrated. I’m telling you… it is ONE of the best gifts I would very much appreciate for myself.

 

Creating special memories with my daughters and friends. A beautiful time that I can recall that brings a smile to my face.Christine 

 

Time for myself… Good for me and others…  – Louie

 

The GIFT of SHARED ADVENTURES:

The best gift I received this holiday was being able to go to Universal Studios with some of my dearest co-workers. We shared stories, survived the rainy and windy weather together, and took lots of cool pictures. I’m also grateful for friends that turned into family, and that I was able to spend the holidays with them this past Christmas. Although I miss my family back at home in Indonesia, I truly feel blessed that I have beloved people with whom I was able to celebrate the holidays and create wonderful memories with. An item that I was really happy to receive was a room heater from my work department’s secret Santa gift exchange, because I wouldn’t be able to survive these winter mornings without it!!! – Darlene

Yes, warmth is very important, given this winter chill we are all experiencing, this is heaven sent, I bet!!!

 

The GIFT of ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:

The best gift that I got this past Christmas was the most thoughtful and expressive handwritten letter from my daughter. The sentiment of a handwritten note is nostalgic, fills my heart, and makes my soul sing. All I’ve ever wanted to do is make my kids proud. So, to see and hear her tell me all the things I’ve ever wanted to hear from her, as my only daughter, made me ugly face cry for real. Like, GURL. You had me at “Dear Mama.” LOL.  This is definitely the energy I needed to end 2023 with a bang and catapult me into the New Year.  – Geolyn

Aaanddd… you got me! This made me so sentimental. I couldn’t help but shed tears… ❤️

 

During sometime in my fatherhood, my hopes for Christmas gifts changed.  Every year, I would wear my secret agent/detective hat to secretly uncover what my kids’ real wish lists are, what they want (but won’t put on their lists), items they would never mention (because they never think it will happen), and/or fear of judgment.  Once my super sleuthing is complete, I strategically select which items to cross off their lists, and plan how to surprise them.  When they opened their presents, I slowly warmed them up with gifts equivalent to school supplies and socks. Slowly, I noticed that the hopes in their little hearts waivered, and they struggled to maintain their polite smiles. That was my cue to nonchalantly proceed and hand them their surprise gifts. While they begrudgingly opened their gifts, the floodgates opened, their smiles went from ear to ear, and their giggles were non-stop. Once they caught their breaths, they turned to me, and said “thank you” in their sweetest voices.  If I had a Christmas list, I just crossed off the one and only thing I had on it. – Paul

A “Thank You” that I am sure will forever resonate in this father’s heart. This story is not for the faint of heart!

 

 

 

The GIFT of SHARED STRENGTH and GENEROSITY: 

The congregation of our church is from Burma, which has been in Civil War since 2021 (due to the military coup of the elected party in February). The whole country was against it, and finally fought back. Since then, because of constant air bombing, 1.5 million people left their villages and ran to the border areas around Thailand, India, and China. We have supported all kinds of ways for these refugees for almost 3 years. This Christmas, our church collected $7,000 during the Sunday Worship Christmas Celebration. Instead of gift-sharing with each other, those offerings went to those people in need. For me, this is the best gift I could ever expect this past Christmas. Praise the Lord! May God help our country. – Than

 

The GIFT of UNDERSTANDING:

Nothing beats the feeling of knowing that the people around you know you so well that they give you just the PERFECT gift. 

Before Christmas, my mother went to the Philippines and got me two sets of South Sea Pearls, necklaces, and earrings.  The funny part is that she got my name from our family’s “Secret Santa,” and she told me that these serve two purposes: her ‘pasalubong’ (traveler’s gift/souvenir) and her gift for Christmas – What a unique way to save! – Ayin

MAMA always knows best! 😉

 

I got socks and let me tell you, BLESSED. I was sick of my worn out, half way slipping down, big toe exposed socks. It’s just one of those things that you don’t want to spend $$$ on if you don’t have to… Or is that just me??? I got both slouchy boot socks and no show socks and I love them. Dang, is this what adulthood is?

I also got a laptop and that was cool too. – Samantha

Yes, it is ADULTING at its finest! socks make my world go round and round…and round! I love them!

 

The GIFT of ANSWERED PRAYERS:

There is always a special power behind parents’ prayers to God. They are beyond powerful, as evidenced below:

The best gift that my wife and I received from God as answered prayers were the following:

1)   My daughter, Charisse Mae, passed the board exam last August 2023 to become an Eye Doctor/Optometrist.

2)   My son, Jacob Russell, also passed the board exam last October 2023 to become a Doctor-Physician as an Orthopedic Surgeon.

These are my life’s best gifts and testimony for this previous holiday. God has blessed my family!

In this regard, I will not stop loving and serving Him! – Sonny

These are just a few of the gifts that made the past season more than just a calendar event. They weren’t just about material possessions, but also about emotional riches – the sharing of blessings, healing of the spirit, and the connections we forged. They reminded us that the most precious gifts are the ones that touch us on a human level, speak to our souls, make us feel seen, and truly loved. 

As we continue on our daily lives, let us carry these gifts in our hearts. For these are the gifts that will keep on giving, long after the last ornament has been stored away… weaving a tapestry of love and connection that will sustain our lives… one heartfelt thread at a time.

Happy Holidays (for the last time!)

K.I.T (keep in touch)

(because we make kits, DUH)

ABOUT THE WRITER…

Penelope

Unicorn whisperer, miracle believer, and master connector of people and ideas for the greater good. Behind every success, there’s a friend like Pen. With kaleidoscope color-changing hair, Pen is a total MOOD with an eclectic flair for fashion, jewelry, and design. A lover, a traveler, and a happy, smiley wanderer. With her, shopping addictions are enabled and totally justified, so consider yourself warned. Always ready to embark on a wild adventure with friends (both furry and human) and family, Pen will literally work for food and look aesthetically pleasing doing it.

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