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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Most Important Gifts of All

This holiday season, for a variety of reasons, I am more grateful than ever. Despite the falling economy, despite the constant, depressing headlines, and despite Britney Spears's supposed comeback, I am truly grateful for the gifts that money, bad news and bad pop icons just can't alter.

The gifts I am most grateful for this holiday season have the qualities of a good riddle. Riddle me this: What is intangible, most often temporary, but rich beyond any measure you can dream of? All of the things I am most grateful for can be the answer to this riddle. First, an incredible gift I have at this moment is the gift of having my mother live with my family, creating a multi-generational household. This is something that is becoming more prevalent as 'us' baby boomers move up the chain. Second, I am grateful for a loving husband who keeps me laughing after all these years. It's as if I have my own personal stand-up comedian (but let me make this abundantly clear: he would have me clarify that he is a comedian in the living room, but a lover in the bedroom, although I do laugh alot there). Third, I'm grateful for the elusive gift of time with my 3 children, an opportunity made possible by the offer of a severance package last year. And last but not least, the gift that I am a thousand times grateful for, that is often taken for granted, is my health and the good health of my loved ones.

I recall when I was about 13 years of age, the holidays and gift receiving lost some of the aura I remembered as a young child. The excitement of being roused by my older brothers and sister when I was 5 and racing to see the myriad of gifts under the tree gradually faded away as we entered our teenage years. It wasn't until I had children of my own that I re-experienced the awe and wonder I had as a child. As a parent, my memories resurfaced and I was excited to recreate that awe and form new family traditions with my 3 daughters. I was immersed in the tangible gifts, the plastic and often deafening toys, the wrapping and unwrapping, the things that money could buy. But somehow, as if handed the reigns of wisdom along with the delivery of my AARP card, it's as if I am doomed or deemed to be more sage and recognize that the most important gifts are those we cannot buy. And to pass the recognition of this knowledge to the next generation. It isn't Guitar Hero World Tour for the Wii that my 13 year old daughter really, really wants and thinks will create long-term happiness, but those intangible gifts that we should be grateful for on a daily basis that matter. But the realization of this may not become apparent until you become a parent. What's important to you this time of year?

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