Christmas is just weeks away. Even if you think your gift list is close to complete, I have one more suggestion for you. I have a gift idea that will be a treasure for anyone and everyone you love. The best part—it is completely free.
The gift I want to suggest to each of you is a letter. A heartfelt letter to someone you love. A letter that the recipient will read, hold, and treasure for years to come. The contents of this letter are completely up to you, but I will share with you what I did, just as a suggestion.
Six years ago, I wrote my mom a letter for Mother’s Day. Every year she would say to my sister and me, “I don’t need anything from you girls. I want to spend time with you.” So I decided to give her a letter that told her all the she meant to me.
I sat down one evening at my computer and just started to type. After an hour or so, I had a three-page letter to my mom thanking her for anything and everything she had done for me. I thanked her for doing school projects with me when I was young, and for starting the neighborhood swim team. I told her how much I loved the memories of dancing to Hall & Oates as she cleaned the kitchen each night. I thanked her for worrying about me when I stayed out late in high school. I thanked her for teaching me to give to others and reminded her of the times we would make cookies for the bus drivers or take stuffed animals to the lifeguards at our pool. I honestly probably could have written another ten pages.
I gave the letter to my mom when she was at my house visiting for Mother’s Day and told her to read it once she got home. The next day she called me and, as she fought to hold back her tears, she simply said, “Did I really do all that?”
It was awesome. It was beautiful to hear her voice as she was confirmed that she was a magnificent mother. I don’t think I told her anything that deep down she didn’t already know, but the feeling it gave both of us to have it all down on paper was indescribable.
When I wrote this letter, I had no clue that my mother would pass away just three months later. As we went through her belongings after her death, I cried when I found that letter again and cannot describe the joy I felt in knowing I had done this for her. I knew that I wanted to do this same thing for my dad.
My dad was the one who always apologized to us for traveling so much when we were young and he always felt like he wasn’t there for us. But what my dad didn’t realize was that his traveling, his working, and his earning a living was exactly how he WAS there for us. We knew that the reasons we were able to take those dance classes and go on vacations were all because of his hard work. He was a diligent man who also played hard, and when he was home, we enjoyed our time with him immensely. He never missed a holiday or special occasion, he took us swimming, he colored books with us on the family room floor, and I never felt like he wasn’t there for us.
I was anxious to write him this letter and let him know that if I could have given God a description of the father I would want, my dad was it.
I never got to give my dad that letter.
Little did I know what was in store when my father passed away just three short months after my mother. This was unexpected, unimaginable, and inconceivable. It was out of the blue. My dad wasn’t sick and was an extremely active man in his sixties. Never in a million years did I think I would lose both parents when I was just 38 years old, and within such a short time.
Again, I am sure my dad already knew how I felt. He knew what he meant to us and he knew that every time I said, “I love you,” at the end of our phone conversations, I meant it. But I still wish I had been given more time to tell him these things. I think I may still write that letter one day.
I share these stories with you because I want to remind you how short life can be and how unexpected life can be. You never know when that person you love so much will be gone. So I encourage every one of you who is reading this to pick one person to write your letter to this holiday season. Don’t wait until they are sick, until they are older, or until it is too late. Do it now and pray that you have 50 more years to spend with this person to make even more memories. But if you don’t have 50 more years, think how wonderful will it feel to know that you were able to tell someone how much they meant to you.