Merry Christmas, Henry!


What is the best Christmas gift you have given or received from someone? To me, the best gifts aren’t fancy or expensive. They are what I call, “gifts from the heart.” A memorable gift I have given that comes first to my mind is a book I gave to my youngest grandson, Noah, when he was about four years old. It was a book with a recording, so when he turned each page, he would hear my voice reading it to him. I will never forget the baffled look on his face when he realized that it was his grandma’s voice he heard! He put the book down and opened his other presents. But later that Christmas Day, I saw him sitting in a chair in the corner listening to the book over and over again.

I’m sure there isn’t a mother out there who doesn’t have a homemade gift or decoration that their child made at school tucked away somewhere in a memory box – like a green and red card made out of construction paper that has a crooked, hand-drawn Christmas tree on the front and says Merry Christmas! I love you Mom with all my heart! inside. Yes, it isn’t the expensive jewelry or fancy packages I remember. My daughter and I were looking through an old box of papers that had been shoved in the back of my closet. In it was a letter she had written to me at Christmastime when she was about 14 years old. The letter said: I am really sorry I didn’t have the money to buy you something really nice, but I hope you still like it. I love you more than anything and I hope this Christmas was happy and a good one. Thank you so much for always being there for me and for loving me no matter what. Signed, (heart) Melissa. Attached to the card were some handmade coupons that I could “redeem” for household chores: wash the dishes, clean the bathroom, do your laundry, clean out the car. A little tearfully, I asked her if the coupons had an expiration date. She just laughed and shook her head.

The best gift of all is having my family together, laughing and sharing good food and joy on Christmas Day. At one of our Christmas Eve gatherings, all of the gifts had been exchanged and the floor was covered with crumpled wrapping paper. The grandkids had excitedly opened their presents, but there was still one gift remaining under the tree. My son held up the gift and asked, “Whose gift is this and who is it for?” We all just looked at each other. Noah piped up and said, “Oh, that is for Henry.” We all looked at each other and asked, “Who’s Henry?” Well, it turned out that for a long time, Noah had an imaginary friend named Henry. “I didn’t want him to feel left out,” he said as we laughed.

To me, that represents the true spirit of Christmas – love is the best gift that anyone could ever receive. Christmas brings out the best in all of us and no one is forgotten at this joyous time of year – not even Henry.

Merry Christmas, Henry!


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