I’ve never gotten a car or a horse or even a trip to Hawaii for Christmas. If I had, I’m sure it would be in my cavalcade of great memories, although even then, I don’t think it would surpass my favorite Christmas present of all time. I was 18 and just moved into my own apartment. My youngest sister was six. I didn’t make much money as a hairdresser, but I tried to get a present for each of my five sisters, my mom and dad, and my grandmothers. I joined them for dinner at their house, bringing my little box of presents.
“M” was, in my opinion, the sweetest, most beautiful child ever born. I helped care for her as a baby and a toddler and didn’t think anyone could love a child more, until later, when I had a child of my own. I remember I made her present the most special one I could. I don’t remember what it was; I just remember trying to get something she really wanted. My dad sat under the big Christmas tree, working through the mound of presents. He called out the name on the tag of each and handed it to one of the little kids to act as runner to the recipient. Near the end of the distribution, he pulled a small package, carefully wrapped by small hands. “To ‘S’, from 'M'!” he called out. “M” was the next runner, so she brought it to me with a shy smile.
I exclaimed in delight, complimenting the wrapping job. I expected a piece of bubble gum or candy. As the wrapping fell away, I saw that a lot of thought had gone into this present. Inside was a small tablet, a stub of a pencil, and a rock. Not just any rock, but a rock “M” found and thought was beautiful. My heart was touched. I wanted to tell her how sweet and wonderful I thought she was. I wanted her to know how much I missed seeing her every day. But I was 18; I didn't know how to express all that. She was six; she probably wouldn't have understood.
She probably has no idea that her little present turned out to be my Most Favorite Christmas Present of All Time. It’s been 42 years. D’ya think I should tell her?