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The most important gifts

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

We couldn’t wait to open the wrapped presents under our family’s Christmas tree in 1970.

My idea of giving and receiving gifts has changed over the years.

How we anticipated the coming Christmas holidays of our childhood! Like most kids in the 60s and 70s, my brothers and I studied the JCPenney toy catalogue carefully, fantasizing about the toy trains, racetracks and beautiful dolls. We played that familiar game of “If you could pick one thing on this page, what would you pick?”

We knew there would be some special surprises Christmas morning, always something thoughtfully selected for each one of us. Yes, we enjoyed giving gifts, but we sure loved the presents under the tree and our stockings filled with treats!

Our children loved the countdown to Christmas, too. They enjoyed finding special treasures for each other and helping with the baking and decorating. We shopped carefully for our children, trying to make our limited-gift-budget stretch to include some special presents for each of our children.

Today, we are fortunate to have reached a place in our lives where we have enough. We don’t need more things, and I find myself echoing what my mom used to say about gifts. “I don’t need anything, just time together.” I do enjoy giving gifts to my family and friends, but receiving gifts now seems unnecessary.

Several weeks ago, long-time community member Gayle Miller died, and her passing is both a loss and a reminder of what is important. Gayle was full of love, with an infectious smile and positive attitude. She and her husband Howard raised four children and were married for 65 years.

Howard is a poet. He writes poems for family events like weddings, anniversaries, graduations, and birthdays, and he wrote lovely poems for Gayle throughout their courtship and marriage. The Miller family included one of Howard’s poems to Gayle in her funeral folder. He penned it in response to her questions about what he wanted for his birthday. Within his poem, he lists the most important gifts Gayle gave him each day:

The gift of Love
The gift of Understanding
The gift of Patience
The gift of Knowledge
The gift of Beauty
The gift of Faith
The gift of Cooking
The gift of Caring
The gift of Time
The gift of Tolerance
The gift of Attention
The gift of Mercy
The gift of Money Planning
The gift of a Touch
The gift of a Kiss
The gift of a Wink
The gift of a Nod
The Gift of a Thank You

Howard’s lines are a beautiful testament and reinforcement of what really matters. The most important gifts we can give one another can’t be found in a store or for sale on Amazon.

The most important gifts gently nurture others.

The most important gifts strengthen our relationships.

The most important gifts demonstrate our commitment to those we love.

It’s a Fine Life.

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