Presents have always been one of my favorite things about Christmas. As a young girl I had fond memories of slowly perusing the pages of the Sears catalog, circling the items in the toy section that I dreamed of receiving for Christmas.

My family at Christmas

Being the youngest of five children, I now realize the great effort my parents must have gone to give a special gift to each one of us. My most favorite gift was given to me when I was seven years old. It was a plastic farm set with a red vinyl barn. I circled it in the catalog and showed my mom and dad. I would dream of this little farm and imagine setting it up and playing. Come Christmas morning, I was delighted to find the miniature farm set placed under our Christmas tree. I was overjoyed and spent hours on end playing with this prized present. My mom and dad had blessed me with this gift and fulfilled a desire of my heart I will never forget.

Fast forward to being a parent myself: I found great satisfaction and joy in finding the gifts that I knew my children desired. Finding the perfect gift for each of my children was a treasure hunt I had a passion for. Seeing the joy on their faces Christmas morning, I would be overcome with joy and love as I watched them open their presents. Each gift was wrapped carefully with love and placed in coordinating Christmas paper under the tree.

My children are now grown yet presents are still my favorite part of the Christmas season. We just returned from North Carolina where we celebrated Thanksgiving with our daughter, her husband and our darling granddaughters. Our son and his wife joined us the day after to celebrate an early Christmas, all in the same week!

I was so excited to give our oldest granddaughter (now four years old) my most recent treasured find — an American Girl doll I found at Home Goods! The doll was part of the Truly Me line featuring dolls made to look like the child who receives them. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found the doll with brown eyes and brown curly hair wearing my granddaughters favorite color, pink! She is the spitting image of my granddaughter. I am still in awe of finding an American Girl doll at Home Goods! What a find! 😊

My treasure find at Home Goods!

My granddaughter and her American Girl doll.

Before our trip to North Carolina, I wrapped the gifts and sent them hoping they would arrive safely. As I arrived at their house my granddaughter greeted me with, “Ammie, the presents you sent are under the tree.” What a relief to hear this news. Each day, my granddaughter Isla counted down the days until it was our day for Christmas, November 26th. Each family member took turns presenting their gifts to one another.

When it was my turn, I carefully placed the large package containing the doll on Isla’s lap. Her eyes beamed with excitement. As she opened her gift, she let out a gasp as she saw her doll’s face looking at her from the open box. It was sheer delight to see. “Thank you, Ammie!” she exclaimed and she shared with me a profound sentence I will never forget. She said: “Ammie, I will think of you every time I play with her.” Those words brought a tear to my eye. Just knowing that she would think of me when she played with this present touched me deeply.

This Christmas the word “presents” takes on a special meaning. My life isn’t the way I imagined it would be with my dear children living in homes far away — Karina in heaven and Annika and her family in North Carolina; but thankfully my son Erik and his wife live nearby in Seattle! 😊 What I have come to anchor myself on is the truth that the greatest gift is His PRESENCE — God with us always, no matter where we are or what we are going through.

What I have come to anchor myself on is the truth that the greatest gift is His PRESENCE — God with us always, no matter where we are or what we are going through.

With all the good gifts the Lord has given me, especially His son Jesus Christ, I’m going to take on the words my little granddaughter said to me. She reminded me that each blessing and gift in my life is something I’m thankful for. I will think of the Lord and His Presence in my life as I reflect on those gifts and blessings. I want to exclaim just as Isla did: Thank you, Lord, for the gifts you’ve given me. I will think of you every time I remember.

As the gift-giving season is upon us, let’s be reminded where our gifts come from and the greatest of all the presents we celebrate this Christmas: the PRESENCE of Jesus with us today and forever!

Wishing you all a very merry Christmas!

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

With hope and light,