My Gift Suggestion
I know it’s been a while since I posted on my website here. Sometimes life has a way of tricking us into thinking that time goes by slowly, only to have us look back and realize differently. It’s Thanksgiving day, and I’ve had a quiet holiday at home with my kids traveling on a holiday vacation with their mom. I’ve spent parts of the day remembering just how many things I have to be grateful for. The fact that both of my boys have had the opportunity to travel more than most is one of those things. Some things you just can’t learn until you “do it” or you’ve “been there” or you’ve had a Thanksgiving meal in another land. I’m guilty of lecturing my boys about their travels. I always tell them that those who are given the opportunity to travel also bear the responsibility of turning those experiences into knowledge, and knowledge into wisdom, and wisdom into action.
With today marking one of those pauses we get occasionally, I decided to use my pause and reflection to share a message and an idea with you. It’s suddenly the right time of year to tell you about a practice I’ve put into practice for many years. It’s something I do right around this time when hustle and bustle consume many of us into a shopping frenzy that challenges even the most experienced and devoted deal-catchers determined to stretch those dollars into celebration and happiness. With that mission in mind we vow to achieve balance as we walk the candy-cane striped tight rope, carrying the burden of finding that perfect gift, decorating the impeccable ideal Christmas tree, and preparing for the weathered traveling to visit family and friends. The bravest of us may stack that list of chores even higher and heavier by putting the sparkle and shine on our homes as we invite, host and entertain.
I know, I know. Some of you love all of that and none of it strikes you as a “burden” or errands of anxiety and hardship. People with that gift are irritatingly happy, so if you are one of those just zip it as you enjoy watching the rest of us scrounge and scatter like a demolition derby of psychotic Santa’s. You must understand that where you see a mall, we see a maul. We love you, but try not to be too giddy in front of us. 🙂
Having said that, the gift I have for you today is for everyone! I think those kinds of gifts are extraordinary, so I hope you like it. Most of us are all well-intentioned observers of many different holidays or personal days of celebration. That’s true not only here in America, but throughout the world as well. This gift is truly a “one-size-fits-all.” I know valuable your time, so I’ll be brief and to the point.
Thirteen years ago, I wanted to start a gift-giving tradition with my two sons. I wanted it to be meaningful, personal, and financially attainable no matter what my financial circumstances were in any season of life. So, I decided to write a letter to each of them. Every year for many years now, I compose a “Christmas Letter” to my sons. The letter itself can be to anyone you’d like; your aunt or uncle, grandma, a special friend, a spouse or partner, etc… It can also contain anything you want. That’s what makes it personal! Mine are always to my sons.
Over the years, this hasn’t been “a” Christmas Gift – it’s become “THE” Christmas gift. It didn’t take long for these letters to be their favorite. Believe it or not, it overcame heavy competition from trendy video games to the latest toys and gadgets! For years now, it’s always been reserved as the last gift to open. Soon after Nick and Jack (now 17 and 20 years old) open their letters, I get my gift! That gift being to be around for another Christmas, and take in the moment as they each take turns reading their letters out loud. There’s a lot of laughter, “Oh-my-God-I-forgot-about-that’s,” and even tears (usually from me).
I’ll continue to write these letters as long as I am able until I am gone. There will never be a Christmas that they don’t receive a Christmas letter from me. It’s our shared tradition and a legacy that I hope they choose to pass on. You know what’s really cool? It costs absolutely nothing but my time, and time is worth so much more than money. We often take that for granted, but I am always happy to share with my kids. Even more cool is that the newest letter usually inspires them to go back and read through the letters of years past. They see their own life in a way no picture could ever capture – through Dad’s eyes.
I have spent the majority of my adult life as a single father and I am not a wealthy man. But I know for certain that I am the richest. J
I’ve had friends ask me how to get started with this tradition, and many people thank me for suggesting the idea. I am more than happy to share with you the list of ideas, inspirations, and prompts that I have accumulated over the years. It’s brief, but a resource I would have loved to have in the first years of this tradition. You do NOT need this list of suggestions to do this yourself, but who knows? It might help.
If you would like a copy of my “Christmas Letter Cheat Sheet,” I am more than happy to email it to you. If you are already subscribed to my BillySoden.com blog website, I am sending it to you anyway! J If you’re not subscribed, feel free to do so ONLY IF YOU WANT TO. If you prefer not to subscribe, no problem. Just send your email address to me at Billy@BillySoden.com and I will send it to you soon. Just label the subject “I’d like your tips” or something to that effect. If you would like to subscribe to BillySoden.com, just CLICK HERE. Either way, I’ll email it to you so you can get a jump-start on creating the best gift ever! And if you do write a letter, please check back in with me and tell me all about it. I’d love to hear about what you wrote and/or the reaction you received!
Those two “littler” guys you see in the video at the top of this blog? Those are my sons. This is Nick and Jack now, Happy Thanksgiving guys! I’m working on “the letter!” 🙂
With Love, Peace, and Hope,