Each child (my two daughters and stepson) dug up a sapling (the offspring of the giant pine tree that was in our front yard) and planted it in a container.
They proudly brought their little trees into the house and placed them on the Christmas quilt I had made nearly 20 years before. Handmade ornaments soon adorned each tree, and the children beamed with delight, though my heart was heavy. We were so poor, I was struggling to keep the heat on, and I was struggling to find ways to make this Christmas bright.
I stared at the $19.95 fake Christmas tree that sat twinkling on the shelf in Walgreens drug store, and as I walked by and left it there, I felt I had let the children down. All I had in my pocket was $20 to buy them presents, and I sadly sauntered my way to the toy aisle in hopes that I could find some cheap trinkets and perhaps some fun games to put under their saplings. I managed to buy three tiny gifts for each child. Christmas dinner would consist of sandwiches eaten on the blanket in front of the fireplace. I dreaded Christmas morning, certain that I would see three little disappointed faces. On Christmas Eve we snuggled as we watched Christmas videos and drank hot cocoa.
Christmas morning arrived and there was a burst of joyful activity as the children ran from their rooms to see what Santa brought them. They giggled and danced with glee as they tore open their gifts, and then...like out of a movie...here, in Sedona, Arizona, it began to snow...and snow...and snow. The gifts were quickly tossed to the side as they donned their coats and ran outside to catch snowflakes on their tongues. Most of the day was spent racing around on the golf course across the street, throwing snowballs, and making makeshifts sleds, much to the chagrin of the very tolerant greenskeeper.
Twenty years later, and my heart still ached that I hadn't been able to give my children more. So, imagine my surprise when my 35 year old daughter suddenly said to me, out of blue, over the telephone, "Mom...you know, the most memorable and best Christmas I ever had was the one when we dug up our own saplings for Christmas trees. It felt like the most abundant Christmas of all."
Clearly, the greatest gifts are the ones that are shared from the heart. This sentiment from my daughter is the greatest gift I could have received this year.
I wish you all a very merry everything this holiday season, and may you receive and give an abundance of gifts from the heart. God bless you!