Yesterday afternoon, as my kids put up the Christmas tree and decorations, my wife commented on how she despises the commercialism, materialism and selfishness that Christmas has become. Bah Humbug! You know, she is not too far from the mark when stores now start their Christmas advertising campaigns before Thanksgiving. And Black Friday? Don’t get me started! Somehow, in all of this materialism, our nation has lost sight of what Christmas is truly about, God’s gift of His Son to all mankind, the ultimate gift from the heart.

While presents are meant to commemorate and celebrate this gift, many now see Christmas as: What can I get for myself? This selfishness totally misses the spirit of Christmas. Sure, getting presents is great, but this is only a small part of what Christmas is about. When I look back upon some of my favorite Christmases, it was not the fancy, expensive presents that meant the most to me, but the ones that came from the heart. Let me share with you a few examples.

When my wife and I were newly-weds celebrating our first Christmas, she knew of my love of fishing. I really had no idea why I was restricted from the basement of her parents’ home one particular evening in December, but on Christmas morning, I found out the reason. Kristin, her mother, and sisters had made me a beautiful quilt with a fishing pattern on one side and flannel on the other. I remember wrapping that warm blanket around me and being totally thrilled that they had taken the time to make such a beautiful blanket. Nobody had ever made me a present that was so personal. To this day, that blanket is one of the most special gifts I have ever received.

Gifts from the heart, a quilt, a photo, a painting, and a wallet.

In Christmas of 2004, my brother, Shawn gave me a framed picture of me and my Dad hiking into our favorite quail hunting covert, “The Trail to Quail.” This treasured photo now hangs over my bookshelf and I look at it every day and remember that special day with my Dad and Shawn.

The Painting . . . .

Last Christmas in 2010, I received some truly special gifts from the heart. My oldest daughter, Emma, has become a very talented artist. I was truly surprised and delighted to open Emma’s present and to see that she had painted a plaque with my two Brittanys, Sunny and Misty, two flushing birds, and a sign with the words, “GONE HUNTIN'”. She knows me oh so well! And to top it off, my Dad, who is a retired medical doctor, handcrafted a leather wallet with a flushing pheasant. Now those are both gifts from the heart! Their makers took their time and used their talents to create something that they knew I would appreciate. They gave of themselves.

The Leather Wallet . . . .

Last year, I read with great interest a reprinted story in Gray’s Sporting Journal by Edwyn Sandys who wrote outdoor stories back in the early 1900’s. Shawn, who already has almost any bird-hunting book you can think of, is a hard one to buy for. You have to go pretty far back in the past to find books that Shawn doesn’t already have. With much thought, I decided to order one of Edwyn Sandys’ books, Sporting Sketches, for my brother for Christmas. The book is over 100 years old. When Shawn opened it, tears came to his eyes as he read an inscription, “Leland Linn, Christmas 1910.” The original owner had received this book as a Christmas present exactly 100 years before. Can you imagine? I really had no idea when I ordered this book online of this curious history, but agreed that this was truly a special coincidence.

The Book with the Inscription . . .

As you celebrate this Christmas holiday, may you get away from the materialism of the world and realize that the most precious gifts you can give or receive are the ones that come from the heart, those in which we freely give of ourselves to others. This will help you to feel more fully of that special spirit that Christmas brings.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Upland Equations!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Excellent post, Andy. I feel the same way. I remember when I was 8 I wanted nothing but a pocket knife with built in fork and spoon like the one my Dad had from his Boy Scout days. I had to make excuses for the tears that filled my eyes when I opened the package on Christmas morning and found my Dad's old knife in there since he couldn't find a new one.

  2. Ryan, What a great gift and story! I bet that's one of the best gifts you can remember. Thanks for sharing.Andy

Leave a Reply to Ryan C Dearing Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s