I have a confession to make: I have never roasted chestnuts on an open fire. That noted, I still feel vastly qualified to assess the wonders of this time of year.
For starters, there was the Christmas of 1965, on which I received what I deemed to be the “greatest present ever”: a Rawlings football that, even today, rests on the shelf of a closet.
Four Christmases later, I again declared that I received “the greatest present ever”: a pool table that, even today, rests in parts unknown, probably in many parts unknown, if truth be told.
Because I like telling truths, I will also recall the first Christmas I shared with my lovely bride, who, some five months earlier, gave me “the greatest present ever,” offered in two words: “I do.”
Some 365 days later, after she literally delivered “the greatest present ever,” my first child, we sang figurative yuletide carols as a bona fide family – and then did it again three more times following the births of three more “greatest presents ever.” Two of the four offspring did some offspringing themselves, and now I have three more “greatest presents ever.”
That aforementioned lot will venture to Youngblood Manor on Dec. 25th this year, along with a Dad and Mom who invested more money than they should have on a pool table back in the day. At some point in the proceedings, packages will be exchanged and opened, and I fully expect at least one of the grandchildren to declare that what’s inside his/her treasure box is “the greatest present ever.”
He/she will be correct, of course. At least, until next Christmas.
Here’s the deal: What’s inside the decorative paper marked by luminous ribbons and bows isn’t the source of our holiday joy. Even a favorite among the items that we have received or will one day receive isn’t the point.
The point is that we have been blessed to receive.
Someone in 1965 suspected I would love a football. My parents knew in 1969 that I had a yearning to hit billiard balls into billiard pockets. Susan Carol Youngblood shared my feverish desire to start and grow a family, and those subsequent family members followed suit over time.
At the heart of each of those gifts was a giver who cherished the opportunity to make someone’s life better.
If you ask me, having people like that in your life is “the greatest present ever.”