Ten Best Gifts of a Lifetime

Classic Hometown Column (original published 2007)
Opryland Hotel Christmas

Oh the pressure is on, to give the perfect gift, or at least something the recipient wants would be nice.

At the beginning of the shopping season, people are putting thought into each present, trying to please with a gift and by the end of the long days of mall hopping, parking miles away, fighting the stressed out crowds, the Christmas shopper just grabs something and grumbles under their breath that they don’t care at least they have something to wrap.

OH the joy of giving! Good intentions fade into obligation. 

As on the Big Bang Theory, the overly intelligent Sheldon explains his reason for not wanting a gift, “...the foundation of gift giving is reciprocity. You haven't given me a gift. You've given me an obligation!”

I feel that way sometimes.

However, in my life I have had many wonderful gifts presented to me and their impact has remained one of the Christmas highlights that I will fondly recall, especially when I am sitting in the rocker on my front porch at 100 years old. Sometimes, I like to take a look at those times when the giver got it right.

Top ten gifts are........

Growing up, one of my most memorable Christmas gifts under the tree was surprisingly a calculator, yes I wrote it correctly--a calculator!

In my ancient days of no VCR, no Computers or Cell Phones, nor a TV that had over four channels, we had to count on our toes and fingers. One year, I was amazed by calculators, probably the next year is when I got my tape recorder with microphone...oh yes, that was a great gift too. However the calculator was a huge deal mainly because it was tough financial year for my parents and I didn't think I was getting the $25 dollar high tech gadget.

My mom has the photo of my gaping surprise  as I realized what my gift was and that is why it will be one of my top ten gifts.

Not all great gifts are surprises, my Number Nine best gift was something that I got every year in the early 70's and knew it was coming from my grandmother. All the grand-kids called her Ninnie and she handmade the best Barbie Doll clothes from robes, dresses, jumpsuits, to fancy undies. She sold them by the masses at flea markets on the weekends. Check your storage because you might have some stored away. To me, they are treasures.

Baby Bro 1972
My baby brother. Asked for him for nine years! Then I got him, at first, I wanted to return him but he worked out to be a huge part of my life and I still have him every year!

Some gifts just hit the right spot. My husband and older kids on my first birthday as a blended family gave me a set of wind chimes, the large, expensive kind that make the best sound. I still love their music. It plays the tune called…I am cherished.

Timing is right for some presents. One year, as was many years, my birthday came around and financially my husband and I were struggling. He was a music minister and I was a stay at home mom which meant very little cash for extras. My brother, Joe instigated a birthday party at my parents and my cousin Scott was involved in the plotting because they pitched in and bought me a bicycle. That was the best bike I had ever received, even better than the Tech mountain bike I bought myself years later which was way more expensive. It could never top that Walmart special!

It is always memorable when your kids buy or make you a present.

However,as much as we like the homemade treasures, and believe me, I cherish those items, but it is also noteworthy to hold dear the trinkets that the child or children saved to buy. All are sentimental gifts that pull at our mother heartstrings and create those wonderful gift moments.

This favorite gift of a lifetime came from my older sons, who did not have much in the way of money, but pulled together their resources and bought me an expensive IPod costing over  two hundred bucks. Now the sacrifice alone of donating their cash to my cause was a heart-felt gift, but the fact they got me exactly what I had been wanting for a long time makes it one of the best gifts of my life.

Our last family photo
In 1997, I did not realize what a special Christmas my family was experiencing.  It would be the last one for my husband who would be killed a couple of weeks later. 

Knowing now what I know, any gift would have been special, but for a couple that rarely worked hard on gifting to each other, he really outdid himself that year. He bought me an engagement ring.

My second engagement ring because he managed to buy both engagement and wedding ring for our wedding in 1982, and I rarely took it off until on one of those rare occasions I did and those rings disappeared. He use to joke that I specifically lost them since I had enrolled in college that year and maybe I was trying to find me a younger man! I made sure I wore a gold ring to advertise 'happily married." He surprised me at Christmas with the diamond engagement ring.

It was a year later while moving I discovered in an old, canvas tote that I took to the beach that I had slipped my rings into it for fear the loosely-fitting rings would come off in the surf.  By then, I would have been widowed for seven months.

My number three all time favorite gift was a heart.

Soon to be married in 1999
Not a life-saving organ transplant, but the heart of a man who saw a single mother with what the world calls, baggageor in my case, two sons without a father, and gave his heart, a very treasured commodity, and stepped into the crazy world that I live. He could have run. He didn't even try. (Probably should have.) Nevertheless, He welcomed all the challenges and to this day his precious gift of his heart makes all the days a blessing, filled with love and adventure.

Did I mention....adventure?

My number two favorite gift is something you will not find wrapped under the tree. It came in four parts. These gifts are ultra special, they are indeed gifts and I am blessed to have them.

Ranked No. 2 are:

I was given four sons, all very unique, very special and very much a blessing. None were wrapped. They all were very costly and are very valuable.

They are top name brand, no generics or knockoffs and each were given to me to treasure, nurture and to love. They are Zach, Luke, Cade and Conner, and for all the complaining I may do in my writing about raising them, they are the gift that keeps on giving-- love, joy, pride, and a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart. And, --sometimes heartburn.
Ten years ago
The boys

My best and most sacred gift of all was a gift that totally represents this Christmas season.

I was given the gift of a Savior. I was given the chance to redeem myself and embrace the abundant life that a born-again Christian can have. This gift is given to all, but not all accept it. I took this gift in March of 1975 at twelve years old and have never regretted it since.

So, open those presents! Enjoy and don’t be sad that you did not get what you wanted.

Rarely do those best gifts come our way. But take the time, to inventory your favorite and most cherished gifts of a lifetime are for you?

Count those blessings! But hurry, the stores have a lenient return policy and who doesn't just return and go get what you really want anyway!  Oh, and don't bother, I've checked....no return policy on kids!

Merry Christmas to all!


  1. wonderful, teary article. Tracy it was good to get to know you and your family. We do receive wonderful gifts sometimes in unusual ways. Like you my best gifts are, Jesus as my Lord and Saviour, Mark, the man that has my heart, and our three beautiful children that we are so very proud of we could bust. We have moved a lot and have been blessed with wonderful warm churches that we could call home. Always found our church home right away so we could be complete. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I have made many friends along my journey....and feel very blessed. Hope you are well! Thanks for reading my work.

  2. I really like your this work hope so every one who visit this page too share his comments. Thanks for share this.
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